The First Semester of Grad School, or Winter 2014 Update

I finished my first semester of grad school at Goddard College earlier this month. It was like climbing a switchback up a mountain–full of light and darkness and air and rain. While I can’t include everything I have done this semester, I would like to share a few of the tips and readings. For this semester, I finished the following:

  • Fifteen annotations (read a book, write a few pages about the craft or art the author worked in the book)
  • Two short papers
  • One hundred pages of creative work
  • Attended the Write on the Sound Conference*
  • Finished a NaNoWriMo novel*
  • Attended four writing intensive weekends*

* the last there were my own inclusions–I wanted to do a few fun things to make my writing adventure amazing. One of my favorite moments was meeting Robert Sawyer at the Write on the Sound Conference in October.

Now, in the process of reading and writing, I have learned more by absorbing the works and ideas of the writers who have come before me. I have found a few helpful tips on the way.

  • 2,000 words per day, every day, so help you Muse (Stephen King recommends this and his muse is a basement-dweller. I think my muse is a mountain-top castle dweller).
  • Write in the active voice.
  • Keep your tenses straight—don’t slip into past when writing in the present, etc. (We all do it, so make sure you’re scheduling editing time to fix it).
  • Write for clarity of message. I struggled with this one. It means when you have a picture in your head, you need to be as specific in detail and as comprehensive as the picture in order to translate it from your brain through your fingers and into the minds of others. Really, it’s a form of telepathy (credit, Stephen King). So get to transcribing what you see and don’t hold back in first drafts—edit later.

Below, you’ll see some of the books I read over the last year. You can’t really compare books because it’s like comparing people–each have their own special attributes and faults. But I can say that my favorite book of the year was Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve. Check it out.

Write on.




About Darlene Reilley

Hey, I'm Darlene Reilley. I am a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. If you're looking for writing prompts, inspiration, and a fellow writer to commiserate with, you've come to the right place.
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