9/25/2006 Update: ARRGH! Looks like I’ll be chopping up parts of my last story in the collection, sticking it in front, and then adding new material. Also, it looks like I’ll be chucking out wimpy stories in order to make new stories with more meat in them. Ten year’s worth of living — what a difference being age 24 back then and being age 34 now makes in the writing process!
Back in the day — the summer of 1996 — I sweated over finishing my Master’s thesis, having missed my expected graduation date of May 1996. By that time, I was burned out on school, burned out on creative writing, and generally burned out.
I vividly remember pencil-drawing a cartoon koala, dressed in hiking gear, instead of working on another short story for the short story collection that was my MA thesis. I was at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, sitting at the bar, when one of my friends who was bartending asked, “Aren’t you supposed to be writing?”
Even though my thesis advisor, C.W. Smith, knew I could write better than what I was kicking out of my word processor, I was so generally burned out that I didn’t give a damn that I was settling for “good enough to graduate.” In the end, I produced seven okay stories, 110 pages, and got a “B” on my thesis for my effort. I think I did better on my Oral Examination, which was done in the previous Spring semester, but, what the hey.
What C.W. Smith realized, but what I wasn’t willing to do, was that if I revised the whole damn thing a couple of more times, with the emotional weight and narrative voice that my stories deserved, then my thesis could potentially be a kick-ass short story collection.
But, sitting at that bar, I realized that I. Did. Not. Care.
So I finished the thing, got the thing approved by my MA thesis panel of three professors, and got my MA in English, with a Creative Writing Specialization, in early August 1996.
Fast forward ten years. I’m a newly minted Ph.D. with my dissertation in book-proposal mode. I’m also a full-time faculty member at a local community college here in north Texas, teaching seven Freshman Composition courses — a heavy courseload, but nothing new subject-wise. What *is* new is me being a faculty advisor for a student creative writing club on campus. And in thinking of what those student writers want out of their club, I’m reminded of my poor, neglected MA thesis.
After ten years, I’m finally willing to do what my MA thesis advisor wanted me to do. And so, that’s what I’m gonna do. It’ll be longer. It’ll be darker. But — finally — it’ll be true.