Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The thought of it actually makes me kind of sick. Can I really go through another round of this?

Not grad school. Grad school I'm good with. But the application process. . .

Four applications. Due December 15, January 1, January 15, and February 1. You need a degree just to navigate the sites to figure out how to apply.

You need writing samples (check), GRE scores (check), letters of recommendation (checking), money (check-ish), transcripts (.5 check). And you need a letter/statement of intent/purpose. No check yet, but it has to be done by the weekend for those letters of recommendation to happen.

That letter/statement kills me every time. I don't like writing about myself. I am awkward and nervous and scared they won't like me. I come across desperate. Please don't make me join the human race! Please let me stay in school forever!

It's not about school. I love learning, I love classes, but after a decade of a college education. . . there is no good way to end that sentence. I have grown old taking class after class. And I will keep taking class after class. There's no stopping me. I've actually considered another masters if the PhD doesn't happen again. So why the PhD?

I have an MA in literature. In June I'll have an MFA in creative writing. Each of those degrees teaches you do one thing very very well. (Read/talk lit, write/talk poetry, just in case you were wondering.) In lit courses you talk about "what it's about." In creative writing classes you talk about how that same lit works. What only happens in very rare classes (Kim Johnson, John Bennion, Mary Kinzie) is that you talk both about what it's about and how it works and how the craft and the criticism need each other. Kim's creative writing theory class got me thinking about this (what form is appropriate for what argument), Bennion's English lit courses presented it from a different angle (creative writing assignments in a lit course), and Kinzie just insists on speaking both languages at once. I first discovered it in my own work when I realized that the only theory/criticism that would work for my MA thesis was Grossman's Summa Lyrcia, which is on the craft of writing a lyric. And at NU, I come at texts from a new perspective that lit profs aren't expecting because I'm considering what the text says about the craft, and how the craft makes the argument. I have this crazy toolbox to talk about and teach literature and writing, specifically poetry, and I want to use all of that toolbox. And a PhD seems the best way to do this.


Th. said...


Ugh. I'm "working" on writing the same things.

Lekili said...

First of all, you have matured while you have been in school, BUT you definitely have NOT grown old. And...seems to me you have just written your "letter of intent," so with all of your ability to write and talk about the craft and the literature just expound upon it.

Remember that all these profs who have agreed to write letters of recommendation for you already know you are fabulous. So, you putting it on paper just formalizes it.

Good luck. I love you.

"In the way . . ." said...

I agree. Sounds like a pretty good letter of intent. Hope the living arrangements are working out!

Jim/Blog said...

Yes, applying to PhDs is truly miserable. Where are you applying, btw?

mlh said...

What gets me about the letter of recommendation is the same thing that gets me about first dates: all the "be yourself, but be your best self" crap. I'm not my best self; I'm just this.


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