I'm not ready to write those words. Completed. Graduated. I loved every minute of being a part of Queens low-residency program.
It was a whirlwind bittersweet final fifth residency at Queens. As graduating students, we had a modified schedule - no more workshop! We did attend special topics seminars in the morning, taught by faculty including Lauren Groff, Kim Wiley, Jonathan Dee, and Suzannah Lessard. Topics ranged from publication paths, to novel structure, to the First Amendment and writers, and freelancing.
In the afternoon, we presented or attended graduating student craft seminars. Along with our thesis, Queens graduates are required to write and then teach our craft paper. It's a short session but a great experience. It's a quick way to see if you're ready for a classroom, university or otherwise. I wrote a brief overview of my craft seminar here.
Evenings were reserved for public readings, by faculty (I was thrilled when Lauren Groff read from Arcadia) and by graduating students. Again, part of our graduating requirements include reading from our thesis. Each night was a mix of poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. Any time that we earned from not having workshop was spent instead stressing over our readings and craft presentations. And on Saturday night, we graduated.
What's next? I go back to my day job. Most of us in the low-residency world will. Some of us will try for academic positions or residencies. All of us will keep writing. Because of the nature of the low-res program, I don't feel I'm pressured to search for that tenure-track job (unless it's something you really want to do). What I will continue to do is to keep the writing schedule I've created over the past two years.
Figuring out that writing schedule was the biggest plus, in my opinion, of the low-residency model. I'm not going to be thrown in to some unfamiliar post-graduation world tomorrow. I'm going to get up an hour earlier than necessary, and in those pre-dawn hours before the day job, I'm going to put words on the page.