Monday, November 14, 2011

mfa thesis odyssey

Emerging from my adventures in thesis land. This is the beast I conquered...

And these are its innards...

It was a long road, especially trying to write the novella, "The Only Thing That Matters Is Being There." The longest story I ever wrote before this was 25 pages, back in my undergrad years. I'm most comfortable writing 5-10 page stories. This story/novella tips the scale at 33 pages. Despite my calling it a beast, I really love/am proud of my thesis.

There are a few things without which I couldn't have accomplished this:

  • Google -- for everything from heart attack and stroke symptoms to 3D Earth views of hikes in Zion National Park.
  • This Paris Review interview with Alice Munro -- literally a lifesaver. I almost find it hard to believe now, but I reached a point in my work these last few months when I doubted I had what it took to keep writing. The Great Alice saved me: "I have stacks of notebooks that contain this terribly clumsy writing, which is just getting anything down. I often wonder, when I look at these first drafts, if there was any point in doing this at all.... I don't grasp it very readily at all, the 'it' being whatever I'm trying to do.... I only seem to get a grasp on what I want to write about with the greatest difficulty. And barely."
  • My advisor A.J. pushing me to go long
  • My friends -- for being excited about my novella and eager to read it, which kept me from getting lazy, kept me thinking "I have to make this good--people actually want to read it."
  • My husband! -- for cooking every day, doing dishes, cleaning, running errands, doing laundry, letting me cry all over him, so I could work through this thesis, and for reading it and giving me really good feedback. I think he's a keeper


  1. Hooray! Congratulations! The transition from long short story to something bigger than that is scary but wonderful, isn't it? And Alice Munro interviews have a way of saving my life too.

  2. You're so sweet, thanks, Erika!