Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Next Step: Home Again

I happened to notice just now that it's been exactly two years since my last post. Never have two years flown by so quickly or been quite so full of change as these.

As of three weeks ago, I earned my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Creative Nonfiction. Oh don't worry--I'm still the same as when I went in. I still don't know how to end my essays, am still terrified of query letters, still not sure if my writing is boring but am sure that it's not great. I learned much about developing my essays, learned the names of famous writers I hadn't known before, and, perhaps the most important benefit, met fantastic mentors and fellow writers whom I intend to keep around for life.

There was a moment during the senior year of my undergraduate years--I remember the exact spot on the sidewalk--when a thought cut my breath short: I couldn't leave, I didn't know enough. This, I've come to understand, is the final thought of us all who have time to think a final thought: We don't know enough. It is humanity's lament and must be, for there will ever be more to know. At the end of every endeavor or relationship or achievement or season, we can all look back and think the same.

Reliably, then, this thought again cut my breath short as I shook the MFA director's hand, signifying my end to the deadlines and assignments and handholding of mentorship. And over the next few weeks even until now, I've found myself wondering, now what? What's next? I don't know enough, and I especially don't know where to go now.

During my MFA I wrote mostly essays--my longest turned out to be about 25 pages. While fellow students were pumping out full blown memoirs about their exotic international or abused childhoods, I frequently had to accept that I have not been blessed with the gift to write memoir, at least not yet. Short and simple defined my work--has always defined my work, exemplified by the puddle.

However, I learned that most of my epiphanies were provided with the other writers in my writing group. The theme for my graduate thesis, "All the Ages We Ever Were," came from one of these writers. A week after graduation when we met for lunch, another of my fellow writers planted another idea. "Sarah, you should be a columnist. You've got the eye and the voice for it."

When she said it, I suddenly remembered people in my past who have said the same thing: "You should be a columnist." I have no idea how to become a columnist, and I'm just cynical enough to know that "you should be" is a far cry from actually "being," but maybe it's a step toward knowing what the next step in my life should be.

Wherever this big, long road of life takes me, it's a simple pleasure to splash around here. I'm ever in awe of how much this little Puddle feels so much like home. Thanks for splashing along.