Last night was my M.F.A. program’s graduate thesis reading. I’m a first-year and so have another year to worry and work on my thesis, but it was exciting to see friends and writers whose work I had come to admire up on stage, ready to read from their finished works. Our program director started the night off with some moving remarks about the importance of our time spent here and what goals we should expect to set for ourselves in the future — to continue to value our writing and keep it alive in spite of careers, to “never have a friend or lover who does not value your writing.” I have another year to go in the program but I felt excited by the idea of stepping out into the world, armed only with what I’ve learned.
Then it was on to the readings. I was impressed by everyone’s hard work, and even riveted by the poetry, which I normally find hard to get into. It was both inspiring and daunting to hear the polished, finished works of my classmates. The writers all expressed heartfelt gratitude to their teachers, who had coached and coaxed them through the final stages of their thesis work.
Afterward we all packed ourselves into a small room for the reception and I congratulated the second-years who had read, trying to imagine myself a year from now, graduating with a Masters’ degree. Then after a dinner I walked home through New York’s lonely crowded streets, feeling anonymous and invisible slipping through the people and from train to train, imagining that every small detail that leaped out at me — shoes lined up in a window, people joking on the subway platform, chalk faces drawn on the sidewalks — could go into my next story.