December 12, 2015

Five Things I Love About College

I am about to enter the final week of my third semester of college.

This past week has been pre-finals, which for a writing major means crazy amounts of stress trying to edit my portfolio. Let me try to make every piece of writing I've worked on this semester suddenly sound perfect and ready to submit to a Literary Magazine. Because, yes, one of my class assignments is to submit a piece for publishing. Yikes that's terrifying.

I've been trying to work on the pieces throughout the year, but with writing I've realized that I'm never actually done. I can think a piece is perfect and send it to someone to read, and they'll always have something they'll suggest I change. I'll perfect it a second time and send it to someone else and find a thousand more things to fix. It never ends.

Plus everyone else is stressed and I have learned that stress is contagious.

But, I'm almost done with my third semester of college. I did it. I made it.

Rather than post about how excited I am for Christmas break and how glad I am to have a break from college, I'm going to try and stretch myself out a little and make a list of five of my top favorite things about semester number three.

1. My friends are great. In fact, one of my most common struggles is trying to fit in socialization time with all of the people I love without overwhelming my inner introvert. I have an absolutely amazing group of writer friends who have been so helpful through the editing process. I have a great roommate and a great group of friends from all the different majors who make me feel so comfortable. I can always be myself around them and can rant to them or get excited with them, and they are my ever faithful meal partners. And I have formed such a great bond with my Christian Club friends, who help me refill and give me no end of reasons to laugh. I have amazing friends. I'm so blessed with the people I've met here.

2. Great writing teachers. I've had two classes this semester that were just amazing. My Intermediate Fiction teacher is amazing and wonderful and I've been telling everyone I see to take a class with her if they can. She taught me how to workshop well and how to talk about fiction like a true writer. And Technical Writing just perfected all my writing. That whole, targeted and concise communication. I feel like a better writer and thinker.

3. Good writing. I'll be honest, I've turned in a lot of really bad writing this semester, especially to my not-quite-what-I-hoped-for Creative Writing class where everything was spelled out for me. But I've also done some work that I'm really proud of. I have a fresh start to Equity Blue (I know, I know, every six months I have a fresh start to Equity Blue. I'll figure it out eventually, I promise.) I have a ton of poetry, some of which I am even willing to submit somewhere. I just feel good about my writing skills and my editing skills. I'm learning how to bring together all the parts of this writer thing.

4. Fall! I know that fall is just one, maybe two months of the semester and it's not exactly school related. But fall was really beautiful and I felt really good mentally and physically and spiritually during that beautiful season. Every time I stepped outside God took my breath away with new piles of leaves or red trees or cute little squirrels scampering around. I wouldn't get this kind of fall if I wasn't living in Vermont.

5. My church. I found a really amazing church last year and have continued to attend this semester, and it's really starting to feel like a family. Even on the days when I feel hollow and empty and tired church refills me with purpose and meaning and motivation. I love the smile that I always find at church and I love the way morning worship just make me fly. Church keeps me going.

Bonus: my room is awesome. This dorm is so much better than last years, I don't have to be afraid of someone walking in on my shower and the fire alarm has only gone off once. Plus I lofted my bed and have my desk underneath with tons of Christmas lights and quotes written all over the bedframe. I have letters and pictures covering my wall and a bookshelf filled to overflowing with books and notebooks. I even have a globe and and a nativity set for Christmas. My room makes me so happy.

December 5, 2015


I just want to by typing tonight.

I have nothing new to say, no words of insight or wisdom that must be written down on this blog tonight. I just need to write, and I need to write something to someone, something that will be read.

I've spent most of today alternating between editing portfolio pieces and wandering the room trying to find something else to do. I wanted to go somewhere, but here in Vermont the sun sets just after 3 and I don't like the idea of walking or riding a bus alone after dark. So I just stayed in my room. Tried unsuccessfully to dye my hair blonde, worked out, read, scrolled through Pinterest Christmas nail ideas.

The truth is, it's exhausting to edit my work. I've been picking at these pieces a little bit throughout the semester, hoping to save myself some work here at the end, but that's not how writing works. I did a ton of edits on this one poem right after I got feedback from the teacher and classmates. I was completely happy with it and would say it was ready to be turned in. But now I read it and feel like there must be more I can fix, words I could change.

The fact is writing is never finished. Or at least mine isn't.

I like to laugh that I am the writer other writers hate. Writers in my classes can spend hours talking about how hard writing is, how much they want to write but can't, how sad they are that they do anything but write. I'm the opposite. I love writing. I write every second I get the chance. I'm intoxicated by the sound of words escaping my mind and finding life of their own.

Of course, the editing is hard. I love it, in one sense. I love looking at a poem that's gone through what feels like a million drafts and seeing how much better it is now. I had this one poem that I loved when I first turned it in. I had spent a lot of time working on it and was so happy with how it sounded.

The teacher sort of tore it apart, as she has done to almost all of my writing, and one of my really good writer friends told me that I really needed to take out the parenthesis in my poem. I loved my parenthesis and I fought him so much, but I took their comments in the back of my mind and started hacking at the poem. My thought: "I'll show them how bad it sounds their way." But as it turned out I found some sort of in between land which was so much better than what I started with. (Without parenthesis. I had to admit that he was right and the parenthesis were definitely holding the poem back.) Sometimes editing hurts, but it's worth it.

I guess there's a life lesson in this too. I think sometimes I need to let God edit me back into what He wants me to be. It hurts sometimes, especially in the times when it feels like everything needs editing at once.

That's where I am with classes. Everything needs fixed. Everything needs work. I start on one project and can't focus because I also should work on this other project and I can't do it all at once and I don't know where to start. Everything needs to be edited.

And honestly, that's where I am with life too. I think there are a lot of areas of my life that need editing, that need work, that need help. I've been holding on to my own kind of parenthesis and fighting so hard without even realizing it. It's not that anything is bad now. My writing isn't bad without another round of edits, but it can be so much better. My life certainly isn't bad. But it can be so much better.

Sometimes I need to allow the red pen and let things change.

December 4, 2015

Refreshing Breaks

It's been a week since I drove up to Niagara Falls for Thanksgiving Break. Feels like it's been a day or a year. I gathered together four friends, one of whom had a car, and we crossed the boarder into Canada and drove eight hours toward the Niagara area.

Plans never quite work out, so we ended up stopping at the Toronto airport where I was dropped off to go search for my boyfriend and his family. He stepped off the plane just after I got dropped off, so in the end it worked. Then we all drove down to his parents' house and ended the night with hot soup and a movie.

The break was amazing. I felt so relaxed and smiled so much. At one point Friday night I was just feeling tired and was worrying about whether or not everything was going well, but my boyfriend was right there beside me and was able to point to my friends, who were all laughing like crazy over some toy in a Christmas Shop, and assured me that they were having fun, that his parents were enjoying the company, and that it was a good trip. He then pulled me into a room lit up on all sides with Christmas lights and moving paintings of candles, and we pretended to know how to waltz.

That evening we played Camouflage and Lave Monster on a little playground and we realized that there's a huge difference in the endurance levels of elementary school kids verses college students. We all woke up sore the next morning.

We got to do a lot of hiking, through different sections of the Bruce trail, beside the train tracks that passed the house, along the strip of river leading up to Niagara Falls. Everything was beautiful, and breathtaking, and I was able to forget about school.

Well, other than to check emails and find that my professor had graded a huge group project (A!) and then to consider reading the non-fiction pieces I would have to workshop as soon as I was back on campus. I got a few sentences into one all about anime, drugs, and sex and decided not to keep reading. So instead we played another round of Dominion and laughed some more.

It was beautiful, and wonderful, and I can't wait to go back in just two weeks. So close! I cannot wait to see my boyfriend again, and his family, this time including his sister who's getting married! I'm so excited for her and so excited to see her.

Now I just need to figure out how to push through this last week of classes and the week of finals and finish up the semester well. Easier said than done I'm afraid...