MFA Semester 1/6: Complete

Considering I was rejected from the program the first time around…

Considering I never thought I’d be able to complete the program in the recommended six semesters…

Considering my break between undergrad and grad (official graduate student status) was fourteen years…

Considering my single parenting and full-time employment…

Considering…life happens…

Earlier this month I completed my official first semester as a graduate student in the MFA program as a fiction writer.


I love using that word.

It sounds so…official.

I went into the program reminding myself of the limits on graduate studies. While the recommendation is to finish the MFA in six semesters of full-time status, I could technically take up to six calendar years to complete the course of study. I was sure I would need at leave five. I had been taking one class a semester for a couple semesters as a graduate special, and one four-credit course on top of everything else was tough. It took a lot of planning and time management and patience and…


No, really, I don’t know what it took. Late nights and last minute writing and lots, I mean lots, of guilty feelings.

My first semester–complete with two four-credit courses I thought would be a test of how much I could stand–started off with a semi-emergency meeting between my advisor and the program director (chair? leader? amazing human making sure we’re all doing what needs to be done for degrees? I forget official titles) and myself to map out the possibility of completing in six semesters.

Not years.


With the help of a trusty Excel spreadsheet* and the opportunity to transfer some of my graduate special credits (some, not all), it suddenly became clear that I would not need six years. Or five years. Or even four. I could complete the course of study in the recommended three years.

  *Helpfully saved as Roxanne’s Amazing (and totally attainable) MFA Plans.

For a girl who flies by the seat of her pants and fails at meal planning just a week’s worth of dinners and has no idea where she’ll be in a year or five or ten, that was a pretty terrifying concept.

Even though I’ve lived in the same apartment in the same city for my son’s entire life, I always had this image of us moving at some point. Maybe not leaving the city, but at least the apartment. Or maybe the city. Maybe the state. The possibility was always there.

Now it would not be. For three years.

I got over the terror (kind of) and found the excitement (kind of). I liked to pull up the spreadsheet from time to time over the semester, just to see the neat little rectangles with their lovely little map of what classes to take during which semesters, which forms to fill out by when, and that end goal of A MASTER OF FINE ARTS IN CREATIVE WRITING BY MAY 2021.

Hold on. Give me a minute. I’m still wrapping my head around it.

And now, only a few short months later, I am able to mark off a beautiful 8 CREDITS as complete for the Fall 2018 semester. With another NINE enrolled for Spring 2019.

By golly, I think this might actually happen.


My favorite photo I took this week:

Dead gnarled tree surrounded by fallen leaves
Do I need a reason to love this?