If I were to be totally honest with you, I'd say that the reason I never went back to grad school, even though I've wanted to since before the day I left college, was logistics. What exactly did I want to study? How would we pay for it? And in the more recent years the logistics grew more complicated. Who would watch the kids? What if they are sick and need to be picked up from school? Who's going to pack their lunches and brush their hair and make sure their clothes match? Who will check their homework and carpool them to swim team practice and piano lessons? Where would I ever find the time to study when I can't even find the time to get the clean, dry clothes from the dryer to the dressers?
When I began researching and drooling over programs, these were still always the questions. Where is the money going to come from? Who will take care of the kids? When will I find the time to get the work done?
Until finally my husband said, "Just apply. And we'll work the details out when it happens."
So I applied, and now the details are hanging over me like weighted clouds. I still don't know the answers to those questions. School doesn't technically begin until January and yet I already have a stack of things to do, to write, to submit, to read. I thought I'd have time this fall to finish revising my current book and get it off, have a short break for Christmas and be up and rolling the first of the new year. But it's not looking like that.
So yes. Details.
But if I were to be totally honest with you now, I'd say the reason I feel like hurling every time I think of school is not because of money or time. It's because I've glimpsed the people in the program.
There's not a list anywhere, but a resourceful writer who is likethis with google can find names. And I've found names. And they are beyond impressive. Awards heaped upon awards. Publications all over the place. One man has TWO pulitzer prizes for journalism. Because, you know, one just isn't enough. He has TWO.
I say this to my husband at random moments when he probably thinks I've paying attention to TV or marveling at how the dish soap stays soapy after so many dishes. Out of the clear blue, into the silence between us, I say, "Two Pulitzers. He's got TWO! PULITZERS!" And my husband will sigh and say, "Yes. I know. You've said that before."
But I'm still wrapping my head around the idea that I will be sitting with these people, and who am I? Am I the obligatory "person with potential" the program chose? How in the world did I get lumped in with these writers? How can I even call myself a writer among them?
I worry that I will get there and everyone will be more well-read. They will know great writers and be impressed with the guest speakers, and I will wonder who they are and why they talk in words with more than two syllables. I will wonder if I need to do more navel gazing, write more poetically, write less like me.
Will I lose the voice I fought so hard to find? Do the professors expect me to be a better me, or a different me?
And I keep reading about how painful it is, but in a really good way, like people rush out of rooms crying because they feel the poetry punched them in the gut, or their advisors push them so hard they are emotionally drained and already I cry more easily these days, when I never used to cry at all. So will I spend my residencies crying and being embarrassed and rushing from rooms and saying, "I have no idea what came over me, but now I must go write until it cleanses my soul!"
Or should I just make sure I have plenty of kleenex and waterproof mascara packed?