From the Open Road to the MFA, in Search of Where Your Life Still Matters
This summer I had the best job that I will probably ever have. I travelled around the country creating social media content for an awesome outdoor/adventure lifestyle apparel company called Howler Brothers (my only shameless plug, check them out, they make great clothing). My friend and I travelled from Texas, down the coast to the Florida Keys, back up to Idaho, Colorado, and Utah, then up to the Pacific Northwest through Oregon and into Washington in the company van, going fishing, hiking, camping, making new friends, and meeting up with old ones. Our only responsibility was creating content every day, so we tried to do as much as we could possibly fit into a summer. We got to go to some truly awesome places in the U.S., from the beautiful blue waters of the Florida Keys, to Stanley, Idaho, at the base of the jagged Sawtooth Mountains, to the beautiful green trees and plants that come up out of the gray mist of the Puget Sound. The thing we really remember most about the whole trip though are the amazing people we met and their generosity, and excitement to help us, and be a part of the journey. People took us out on their boats in the gulf, they let us sleep on their floors, they took us on 5 a.m. dawn patrol fishing trips, and showed us the best dive bars around. They made the trip worth it and so much more. Then I got dropped off in Fort Collins, and dove head first into the MFA.
Starting an MFA is daunting. With classes finally starting to move at a steady pace, it set in this week that I will be here studying and writing poetry for the next three years. That’s a long time. At first this was very scary. For the past year and a half I lived a very transient lifestyle. This past year alone, I had four very different jobs in different places, and am starting my fifth at the CSU Writing Center this semester. Much like my summer job, there is so much to do while I’m here, and I want to get everything I can out of it. As new students, no matter what we study, I think we’ve all had at least one moment thinking “what am I doing here?” But when I get into the writing and reading and go to the classes, I meet that question with excitement about what we’re doing: what we’re learning, what we’re doing as writers, and especially how we can help each other realize and achieve these goals as an MFA community. The people here, just like the people on my summer journey, encourage and inspire us to work hard, for ourselves and for everyone else, as students, professors, and writers. The daunting feeling of starting the MFA has gone away.
Last week we had our first workshop reading each other’s writing, and the nerves of sharing our work were met with awesomely in-depth thought, consideration, and discussion with our peers. It reminded me of my favorite quote about learning and teaching creative writing. Richard Hugo says in his book The Triggering Town, “A creative writing class may be one of the last places you can go where your life still matters.” We’re all here to help each other learn and become better writers and the people here make that a worthy task.