Monthly archives "November 2013"

Going Back To School – Why Does It Have To Be This Hard?

Well, back to my story. As you know, I took an intersession class in Post-Colonial Literature and the Intro to Creative Writing class during the summer. It was toward the end of my Intro class that I was informed that a second 360 lumbar fusion was in my immediate future.

This isn't my spine but it's pretty close to what they did

This isn’t my spine but it’s pretty close to what they did

For those of you that don’t know what that means, a 360 fusion is a spinal fusion where the neurosurgeon goes in through your abdomen or side to do part of the repair work then they flip you over and go through your back to do the rest of the repair work. Hence, the 360. Between each vertebra is a disc that is fibrous on the outside and jelly like on the inside.  Discs acts like shock absorber between the vertebra in your spine. In a fusion, the disc is removed and replaced with a bone graft. The whole thing is held together with metal plates, bolts and screws. Fun, huh?

As soon as I received the news, I spoke to my advisor and the professor that was teaching the Intro to Creative Writing class. Both said to wait until the week before classes started to talk to the professors teaching the classes. I bounced my plan off both of them and they seemed to think it was reasonable. So, three days before surgery, I emailed both professors. I proposed that I be allowed to work from home until I was able to join the class in person. I talked with the Student Disabilities office and found out they could provide laptops with webcams so I could Skype the class and email in my assignments. Since the university does online classes as well as traditional classes, I really thought they would agree to this hybrid type class.

I was wrong.

Does Going Back To School Really Have To Be This Hard?

I can't take classes this semester!?In spite of the fact that I had made the President’s Honor Roll this summer, neither professor would go for my plan. I was beyond pissed – that lingering kind of pissed off that eats at you and just won’t go away. I finally decide to go back to school and barely get started when the proverbial rug is yanked out from under my feet.

Yeah, I know I’m whining. I don’t get whiny very often but this was important to me since the plan was to take Fiction Writing and Creative Non-Fiction this fall and apply to the MFA program this spring. This back surgery has pushed the plan back a full year. What I don’t know is if my advisor and summer school professor were being honest or if they knew I’d get shot down from the beginning and just didn’t have the heart to tell me. Maybe I’ll ask them some day but I guess it’s not really important.

I actually delayed dropping my classes until the Monday that classes started. There was some part of me that believed that I’d somehow be able to start class – never mind that the surgery was on a Thursday and classes started the following Monday. I’m nothing if not stubborn.

When my grandfather was alive, he used to say we were made of “good, old-fashioned pioneer stock” – especially the women. He had a story he would tell about a my great-great-grandmother and how she was the kind of woman who would be out working the fields while nine months pregnant, go into labor, squat, drop a baby and then keep on working. I don’t know if this story is true or not but it makes a good story. Knowing the women in my family, it probably is true.

So, here I am, three weeks out from surgery and though I hate to admit it, my professors made the right decision. I won’t be released to drive for several more weeks, not to mention having to sit in one of those hard, uncomfortable funky desk chairs. I have been looking into online classes but as wretched as I feel on any given day, I’ve yet to make a decision – which is part of the problem. There’s just no way to really write anything of any quality when you have the attention span of a hyperactive gnat. I’m still pissed that the professors wouldn’t work something out with me but the intellectual part of my brain knows it’s all for the best.

oyfRxRBThis experience made me think of all the stories you hear about alcoholic, drug-addicted authors. I only have one question. How?

  • How in the name of everything holy and unholy do alcoholic or drug-addicted writers ever get anything remotely decent down on paper?
  • How are they able to formulate cohesive, coherent plots?
  • How are they able to do the necessary research?
  • How are they able to write stories that land them on the bestseller lists?
  • How are they able to meet deadlines?

Okay, so that turned out to be a bunch of questions but they all address the same issue. How can someone be productive when they are four sheets to the wind?