Trust Your Judgment (or, some final thoughts on the thesis, editing, and feedback)

My novel/thesis project is now at my university, on my advisor’s desk, and I am waiting on her final approval. What a journey! Two years ago, the thought of getting a master’s in writing was little more than a brief thought, a vague idea: “Oh, I like writing…maybe I should look into a program.” Now, it’s real. May 19th and I will have the MA in Creative Writing.

Some brief thoughts as I wrap-up this phase of the writing journey: Based on the feedback I have received from my advisor and thesis mentor, I’m already considering some significant rewrites of my novel. Both instructors pointed out weaknesses and issues in the story. There are clichés and some oblique spots where it’s unclear what the characters really want. There are moments where I can paint a more in-depth picture with words. What are my background characters doing? my advisor asked me. Can you make those scenes more than a collective blur? In addition to rewriting based on specific feedback, I’m also considering problems that are nagging me. Like my ending. I don’t like how I’ve written parts of it. I think it could be more meaningful—richer—with some plot changes.

Now, I have my summer writing planned.

Both my mentor and advisor have said all along to trust my judgment, that at the end of the day, it is my decision to make any suggested changes. As a fairly new writer, the thought of trusting my judgment can be a little daunting. There’s something comforting about receiving feedback, whether good or bad, and being able to adjust a story accordingly. The next step is to take that feedback and consider what I want to do with this story. It’s exciting. It’s scary. I need to make choices that will serve the story. What will emerge organically? What will be changed consciously?

In the meantime, I’m taking some time off to consider the next step. I’m starting to look for jobs, and I haven’t ruled out applying to MFA programs. At the beginning of the semester, I submitted several short stories, and I have to return to those and send them to other journals. Publication is essential. And, of course, I have to start writing again. This blog post is the first new writing I have done in months (excluding the thesis). I feel rusty and hesitant. But I have several ideas for fiction and non-fiction projects, and I love the thrill of beginning a new piece.

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