Nothing Like Affirmation

So this week’s been an interesting one. There’s been more good than bad, but the bad was, admittedly, threatening to pull me underneath a wave and drown me. However… let’s discuss the good πŸ™‚

I had my first meeting with my supervisors this week. I submitted pages before the meeting — over 2000 words of my novel’s beginning, and a page on how I think the critical and creative portions of my thesis will fit together. My supervisors are great, not least because they seem genuinely excited about what I’m working on. It was such a pleasure to watch them bounce ideas off of one another, and to participate in a discussion with both of them at once. They’re both incredibly knowledgeable and I just know I’m going to come out of this loaded down with the things I’ve learned from both of them.

My primary supervisor is a published fiction writer, my secondary is a scholar of the Gothic in the English Literature department. Both were very encouraging and offered a number of suggestions regarding literature I should check out and ideas I should consider. I was particularly happy with my primary supervisor because the things he pointed out in my manuscript that needed fixing were things that I felt funny about myself — so I know I can count on him to catch the things that aren’t quite right in my pages. When I first sent him my work, I was beyond anxious. Ever heard of Imposter Syndrome? It essentially amounts to a feeling that you don’t deserve whatever it is you’ve accomplished, and that you’ve somehow bamboozled everyone into believing you’re smarter than you actually are. Camila over at The Things I Am Crazy For wrote a great post on it (check it out!). I attended a workshop this week called “Welcome to Your PhD” and the woman running it included a slide on the condition in her PowerPoint presentation. She said it’s a common feeling among grad students, and I’ve definitely been feeling the symptoms since I’ve been here. But after I met with my supervisors, it finally started to fade. My primary said a few things that made me feel like I’m undoubtedly on the right path with what I’m doing. One of my favorite soundbites from the meeting was when he said he wanted new pages from me because “he wants to know what happens next” in the story πŸ™‚

One of the students who studied in this program before me, Liam Murray Bell, actually had interest in his manuscript for publication before he even graduated. He’s now published two novels, the first of which was his thesis for this program. His first novel is called So It Is, and it follows a young girl who grew up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The narration is split between close 3rd and 1st person, covering her childhood into adolescence & her adulthood as a paramilitary respectively.

The 3rd person narrative voice is thoroughly Irish, naturally incorporating the colloquialisms of the culture. It’s an interesting read. His second novel, The Busker, was released in May of this year. It’s about a folk singer hoping to follow in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, but who ends up stalling out on the road to success. I haven’t read it yet, but I intend to.

I’m going to work hard with his success in mind; if I stay focused, maybe I can accomplish the same. There’s an event here called the New Writers Festival, which includes panel discussions by writers, literary agents, and publishers. I’m really excited about all of the opportunities to network and get your work heard here. I’m going to a vintage fair today, and one of my friends & I are planning a trip to the Tate Modern (which I’ve wanted to go to forEVARRRR) next Friday. I can’t wait! I’m loving what’s available to me now that I’m here, including the possibility of getting a new tattoo by a crazy-talented artist.

Stay tuned πŸ˜‰

11 thoughts on “Nothing Like Affirmation

  1. All this talk of papers and supervisors is making me want to head back to school asap! Grad school was truly one of the most challenging and yet exciting time of my life! It must be very rewarding to see people who graduated from the same place as you who have published! Good luck with everything – although I’m sure throughout the months and years we’ll get updates πŸ™‚
    Also I don’t know if you had ever read my post on the impostor syndrome? I got an overwhelming response to it and it really made me realise that we all go through it!


  2. I’m glad you had useful meetings with your tutors, they sound great. Imposter syndrome… I know ALL about that, but am still going to read the post above about it. I think women suffer from it more than men. Keep up the good work, I am looking forward to reading your novel when it’s published.


    • My meeting was definitely a high point of my week. It’s cool to have people in your field at your disposal who you can turn to for guidance. Camila’s post is a good one! It made me feel connected to the (many) other people who deal with I.S. It certainly makes sense that women would be affected more often than men being that male colleagues have the tendency to say/do things to reinforce those negative thoughts in women’s minds (probably without realizing it b/c it’s so deeply ingrained).


    • That’s not weird at all! I’ve met people here who have a few degrees already b/c they just enjoy learning! In grad school, you’re finally able to study what you want (as opposed to undergrad where you have to take classes on urrvrything. Did you have to take “core classes” as an undergrad? Ugh). I’ll probably post about the Tate Modern. Super excited for it πŸ™‚ xx


  3. Wow, this is such an inspiring post! Sounds like you are going to have a great future ahead of you and you are in just the right place for it! I’m kind of jealous ;).


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