Notes on Completion of an MA

Here's what they don't tell you. You will be depressed and adrift. You will finish and not be satisfied. There will be no champagne reception, no late-night parties or quiet celebrations. There will be months to wait for the result, months during which you can carefully go over each word, wish to revise each word, hate each word, months during which you can decide that none of it matters, and then that all of it matters, more than anything else. To distract yourself, you might throw yourself into something. Say, you decide to finish your novel. You decide that you don't need them anyway. You'll be an author with or without the marks. Numbers are useless anyhow, in a literary world. (Wrong, as always). It's not an easy process but at least it's a busy period of time. At least you feel like the struggles are leading you somewhere.

Then there's the moment when the results are delivered to your doorstep. You think, ah, at last, now I can be released. Either way, at least I can move forward without being shackled to this thing, this thing you've come to think of as a burden, not an accomplishment, not a gift. But what they don't tell you is that it's not like that. Now you revisit the words you loved, hated, wanted to change, wanted to let loose on the entire world. Now you have new eyes with which to see them. Now those months of work are erased with a single glance; no, you're not an author, with or without them. You're a number, a sentence, a name with a few extra letters attached. You've wasted your time, or you haven't, but none of that matters.

In the moment of discovery, all that matters is this: you're still shackled to that thing. That thing you created, that thing you started. Whatever it turns out to be, or doesn't, it belongs to you (or is it that you belong to it, that you somehow owe it something?). You have to own it whether you want to or not. You have to decide what to do with it, because no one else can.

They don't tell you this.