You can do it. I know you can.

A year ago, the thought of going back to school to finish my M.A. degree was certainly in my mind, but didn’t seem within the realm of possibility. How could I find the time and the brain capacity to finish this degree? Was I even smart enough to do it? Would they have me back? Did I even know how to be a scholar anymore?

It felt like there were so many obstacles in my way. Indeed, there were some real obstacles. Once I set the ball in motion and asked what it would take for me to finish, I found out that I would have to formally reapply and take the GREs (both general and subject matter). I found this out in June and began the process of filling out my application, writing my essays, and asking for recommendation letters. I thought I had time to study for the GREs because in my mind, I was applying to begin in September 2012. Once I sent in my application, however, the professor who came to be my advisor told me that she thought I was applying for September 2011.

It was July. There was no way I could be ready in a month. I had to organize a schedule for my son and work around my husband’s schedule. I had to get immunized. I had to take the GREs…

So much in my way. I could not do it.

But I said, fuck it, and did it anyway.

I thought my fellow students would disregard me and that I would find that they did not take school and literature very seriously. I imagined them speaking in text message. Instead, I found them inspiring, intelligent, eager to learn. I consider them not just my peers but my friends as well. And they have given me such hope for the future in that there are still people who are so passionate about literature that they study it exclusively.

I thought my professors would find me stupid and a poor scholar. Instead, we enjoyed our time together and learned from each other. My advisor is someone I truly admire. An intelligent, strong, and compassionate woman, she pushed me to always make my work the best that it could be, not letting me settle on what was easy. To me, that is the mark of a great teacher. I am forever grateful to her.

Each hurdle I overcame has felt like a major victory because nothing came easily. Mostly, though I had to shut up that nagging, negative voice in my head that told me I could not do it. That it was all too difficult and I wasn’t smart enough and that I was making my family sacrifice for nothing.

I was making my family sacrifice for something.

I kept going.

This week, I sat before my three readers and answered their questions in regards to my thesis and my research. This week, I passed my oral defense. I still have to finish the clean up and printing of my thesis but I am just steps away from the finish line.

My family sacrificed for something.  I am not too stupid. I am not too old.  I did it. And I’m telling you this now in case you are sitting on something that you really want to do but are unwilling to because you are listening to those negative voices in your head saying you can’t do it.

You can do it. I know you can.

Honestly, it’s been a pretty great week all around. Beginning last Friday night when I read in front of a room full of friends and strangers at Jabberwocky Bookshop. Can’t thank Sue Little enough for hosting my reading. It was a blast. Have such great and supportive friends. So thankful that they came out.

Later in the week, I was delighted and amazed by a trio of  wonderful reviews of Echolocation:

Steve Himmer wrote a thoughtful and stirring review which not only taught me something about my book, but about myself, my life, my past and future, as well. What a gift. Here’s just a bit of his review:

Those dual tensions, from the plot itself and from my own thwarted assumptions, kept me both engrossed in the story and wondering, in the back of my mind, what Collins was going to do with all this. And what she did was impressive: ultimately, Echolocationgoes where so few stories that build toward violence have the vision or courage to go: all the way to the aftermath.

Then the ever-wonderful, Ethel Rohan, stepped up to the plate and thrilled me with this fresh approach to reviewing Echolocation–A Letter From The Fictional Character, Geneva, To Her Author, Myfanwy Collins. So cool. Here’s a snippet:

 We have these lacks, then, and this haul, too, and we’re always in motion, struggling to get to the next place, or back to some previous place, and none of us seems to know just where it is we’re trying so hard to get to. While I read, though, I was still.

Last, but not least, Brian Seeman posted a lovely review of Echolocation on his blog. I didn’t realize it at the time I read the review, but I met Brian at AWP earlier in the month. He was wonderful enough to come to the joint reading featuring Patricia Henley and me. Brian and I chatted afterward and I later kicked myself for not getting his contact information because I wanted to stay in touch. Lo and behold, here he is writing about my book in a beautiful way. Here’s a bit of his review:

From beginning to end, readers are with Geneva and witness the struggles and successes she experiences throughout life, and when she makes her boldest decision in the novel, the one regarding what to do with Rick, the action is one readers ought to be prepared for. Later, in the closing pages of the novel, again Geneva’s choice is a surprising one, and Collins handles the final images perfectly. It’s a fitting closure for the novel and one surely to leave readers, as they’ve been throughout Echolocation, captivated and impressed.

My thanks to these three reviewers for their time and consideration. Feel extremely fortunate and grateful to have such thoughtful responses to my book.

Absolutely LOVE this interview with The Collagist. The responses are excerpts from Echolocation: She Wanted Her Old Arm Back or Nothing At All.

In other news, I was interviewed for another local paper this week about Echolocation, my family, and upcoming events: The Importance of Being Honest

As far as upcoming events go:

Today, March 23, I will be the guest host for LitChat which is super fun.

Tomorrow, March 24, I am excited to be reading, speaking, and answering questions about Echolocation at the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls, MA

Finally, on Thursday, March 29th, at 7PM, I have another close to home reading at the Rowley Public Library in Rowley, MA

One other very cool thing that happened this week is that Victoria Barrett posted an audio chapter from Echolocation on the Engine Books blog. The audio book has just been released and is available for purchase from the Engine Books site. It sounds WONDERFUL. I absolutely love it.

As always, thanks for reading.

2 Comments on “You can do it. I know you can.

  1. Thank you for the transparency of fears and concerns about your return to school for your MA. You voiced what many people dare not admit even to themselves. Congratulations on this wonderful confluence of education and creative endeavor.

    I enjoyed your visit to #litchat and hope that you will join us more often.

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