Friday, December 14, 2007

Finishing Finals!

It is, of course, December 14. I am in no way lying about the date because it is actually January 10 and I haven’t updated my blog in a month. Nope. It’s December 16th alright. I’m exhausted. Saturday was my students’ final exam when they had to turn in their portfolio. I spent the weekend grading my students and preparing for my finals. Monday was my teaching final. Tuesday was my poetry final, and Wednesday my British literature paper was due. It was one research paper worth 50 percent of my grade. I don’t like one project being worth so much, but that’s the prof’s prerogative. Thursday I packed, cleaned, and uploaded my students’ grades.

Today was interesting. Well, it started out boring. I dropped all my library books off at the library, at which point I ran in to Jake. He seemed happy to see me, and he had been acting strangely, so the warm greeting was nice. Then I went to pick up the bus tickets I won in the silent auction. I still can’t believe my next trip to New York will cost $10 round trip!

Later in the afternoon, I got to sit in on a Q&A with a visiting author, M.G. Vassanji. According to his web site, “M. G Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before coming to Canada in 1978, he attended MIT and the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in theoretical nuclear physics. […]His contributions [in the field] he considers modest, in algebraic models and high spin states. […]Vassanji is the author of six novels and two collections of short stories.“ He says his writing deals with a “sense of loss,” and it’s “like breathing” to him. I asked him which part of his writing process he enjoys most, and he replied, “The word ‘satisfaction’ is better than ‘enjoy,’ because it’s like breathing. I don’t really enjoy breathing, but I feel satisfied when I’m done writing something.”

Vassanji says success as a writer requires talent, hard work and luck. He recommends the kind of discipline he learned in the sciences, and to keep everything you write: “In science, a negative outcome is still an outcome.” Vassanji warns against being too research-driven and reminds us to give our characters and stories room to change and surprise us. He also says to be honest, and “Write what you have to write.”

Not long after that, it was time for the party for Graduate Teaching Assistants in the English Department. The head of composition studies threw it at his gorgeous house. Tim had decorated the place so nicely. There was a ton of great food (I brought my fudge), drinks, and plenty of good conversation. Before I new it, it was time to run home and finish packing. Voila! Now we’re all caught up. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be in NYC!

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