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Megan Betz

This was actually made as we rang in 2012, our first NYE in Bloomington--a time when graduate school was, obviously, making my hands quite shaky. 

This was actually made as we rang in 2012, our first NYE in Bloomington--a time when graduate school was, obviously, making my hands quite shaky. 

It is 8:55 on Dec 31, 2014, and I am wearing the fleece leggings I've had on since I went to bed last night. After travel, marathon cleaning, and a good dose of dealing with piles of our personal life, we called off all plans for New Year's Eve and decided to stay in. I've spent the evening lesson planning (and eating celebratory pizza) and reading Amy Poehler's Yes Please. This--mostly the greasy pizza hands--has all given me a long moment to reflect on 2014 and plan for my 2015 resolutions. While I've already promised myself loads of things will be different in my personal life--and while I've also already admitted that I'll forget about or break those promises by Jan. 7--it seems a good time to decide how, as a graduate student & writer, I would like to dedicate my time this year. A few things came to mind.

Implement the How To Write A Lot method.
I read this book two years ago, and I've been wishy-washing putting it into practice. The two main take-aways are (1) give yourself a time every single day for writing, and do not change the time or use excuses to bail on it, and (2) keep track of what you accomplish in that time. I appreciate that reading, editing, creating bibliographies, and all manner of "writing" tasks are "permitted" in this time. Last year, I was great at the spreadsheet. In summer 2014, it fell apart quite a bit. So, I'm using winter break to revamp my record keeping (and transitioning to Zotero to support this new system of organization).

I also am going to use my office more. This will shock my office mates, as I rarely turn up. I've told myself I'm good at working from home. I'm not. I'm good at baking, cleaning, & hanging out with my pet rabbit while I tell myself I'm "forming ideas" and "letting things settle before a good edit" and "resting my eyes from too much screen time." It's in my planner this year: I am treating my academic career like, well, a career. I'm logging actual hours like I would for any other job, heading to the office at 8 a.m. and not letting myself check e-mail until 10 a.m. to capture that time when I'm at my best. My goal is mainly to write, but also to reclaim some of my evening time for relaxation without guilt--a rare commodity, as we all know. 

The other part of my resolution for 2015 is very much inspired by Amy Poehler, who checks herself in judgment with this simple mantra...

Remember: "Good for her, not for me." 
As most academics are willing to admit, I suffer from a fear that I don't know anything--and if I talk too much or write too boldly, it won't take on for people to catch on. I've realized that this all stems from the twin fears of failure & not winning. I'm afraid I won't get published, and I'm afraid my peers will. Don't get me wrong--I'm thrilled for my peers' success. So, I'm remembering to put that sentiment first this year and remembering that their success builds up the creativity and prowess of our department. It reinforces what I already know: that the conversations I have with my fellow graduate students will result in great feedback and new ideas. Their success is good for them, and it does not have to have any bearing on me.

That said, it's time for me to embrace my own voice, to seek out criticism, and to stop saying I'm editing when I'm really just stalling because I'm afraid to submit. This is the year where it all happens. And by "it" I mean the rejection letters. My husband's MFA program had a great end-of-the year award that I'm very proud to say he won: Recipient of the Most Rejections. This is not a reminder that a bunch of his poems didn't make it into journals. It was a reminder that some of them did, because he was always creating material, looking for the right fit, and keeping a steady flow of submissions. A rejection letter meant it was time to ensure x submissions were still under consideration. This year, I'm going to have him teach my the tao of rejection.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to toast this year closed and take a nap before that big ball drops. It's time to hit bed early and wake up to kick 2015 where it counts.