A Clearer Future

by Beth Royston

Well, I received my news. For those of you who read my previous post Learning to be Comfortable with the Uncomfortable, I wrote that I felt like I was spiraling, unanchored, waiting for decisions and news that would help me shape what my life was going to look like next year. A few weeks ago, both my partner and I found out that we didn’t get into our chosen graduate program. Honestly, I was devastated. I had wanted to get into that program since I started college, and it felt crushing to receive that news. However, I’ve spent the few weeks afterwards in a state of odd peace, which I didn’t imagine I would obtain. 

I’ve done a lot of thinking and realized that while I would have loved to go, this decision may be for the best. My partner and I have both had a rough time with online school, and as we near graduation, we’re both feeling pretty burnt out. A break sounds nice right about now. We’ve also spent the past four years on part-time wages, and being able to find full-time jobs and actually have some savings will be great. We also have become really interested in buying a car, and that would probably be really difficult on our current funds. It’s actually achievable next year with the chance to work full-time, and getting some more experience in our chosen fields is never a bad thing. 

I was introspective and realized that I was so averse to taking another gap year because I’d already taken one —and it was a bad experience. I first decided to take a gap year in between high school and college, and moved from California immediately  after graduation. I had no friends in Portland, and lived alone. I was really lonely without my pets for the first time. I loved my job and saved up a lot of money working there, but I didn’t really do much else other than work. I was incredibly depressed, and understandably didn’t want to repeat that. But I’m in a much different position now than I was then. My life is fulfilling, and I have a lot of hobbies and people around me that bring me joy. There’s so many things that I’m looking forward to doing now that I’ve lived in Portland for five years and have regular favorite spots. Of course it’s normal for me to be upset about not getting in, but I’ve been really pleased to come to peace with it, and realize the many silver linings that are appearing. I’m feeling optimistic about maybe getting my novel publishing-ready this year, and I really want to try taking my online business to a convention! A year of resetting sounds pretty great right about now, with how awful this year has been. We’ll both apply again next year, but it feels like a lot of pressure is off. I’m mostly grateful to just have an answer, so I can begin formulating a picture of what next year will look like. 

Learning to be Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

by Beth Royston

2020 was taxing for everyone, but I felt like I had a double helping of misfortune. Not only was there the pandemic to contend with, but I had a disastrous trip abroad last year, and have been dealing with the symptoms of PTSD ever since. I already have a lot to worry about — myself staying safe, my friends and family staying safe, trying to keep my motivation up for school during this time. However, recently I’ve had to confront an uncomfortable realization that I simply don’t know how the next few years of my life will look.

I’ve always been a planner, and had certainly made plans for those years. I applied for grad school earlier this year, and have had that intention for a while. However, with the pandemic, I wasn’t able to get some of the extra experience that I wanted in preparation for my graduate program. I applied feeling less secure than I wanted. I’m currently trying to sort out how I feel about the prospect of going to grad school if the program will be online. And what happens if I don’t even get in? I’d find a job and I’m sure I’d adjust, but it’s more about the thought of what I desperately want to happen not happening — the pandemic not ending, and not getting into my dream program. I also got engaged to my partner of five years a month ago, and as sweet as that’s been, the both of us have been worried and uncertain, unable to really begin planning anything solid for our wedding. As it may be evident, I’ve spent a lot of time spiraling. 

Unfortunately, all I can do is wait. I must wait and see if I get into my program, I must wait and see what happens with the pandemic that affects all of us. I even must wait and see how other factors in my life come into play to decide when to get married. It’s a lot of uncomfortable uncertainty, my very weakness. My armor is planning and doing the best I can to make my dreams and plans come true. The best I can do is plan for different scenarios and try to stay flexible.

While 2020 was the hardest year of my life, I’ve also undergone a lot of personal growth. I don’t think I will ever entirely be the type of person that can just sit back and be extremely flexible with change, but I’ve come a long way in realizing that sometimes no matter how much you plan things, they will still go wrong. I had that exact experience with my trip abroad. Everything was planned out to the smallest detail, but fortune was not in my favor regarding a dish I chose to eat at a restaurant that made me very ill and culminated in my hospitalization. I’d planned for some general stomach upset when adjusting to a new cuisine, but nothing to that level. You can either fight that or take a deep breath and adjust. I’ve definitely been grieving for the experiences I feel like I’ve missed out on, and trying to put that energy into what I’m looking forward to later in my life. However, sometimes I fail to be optimistic, and simply feel really sad and worried about how adrift I feel. None of my plans are anchoring me. 

It’s an effort every day to try to coach myself on not adding on additional worries about things that I can’t control. It’s something I struggle with a lot because of my personality, but I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I’m glad that I’ve been able to adjust in a positive way because of everything that’s happened, and come out a stronger, better, more resilient person, even if I don’t necessarily feel that way all the time. 

Why I ‘Sailed through the Stars’

Kellie Doherty  By Kellie Doherty

Graduate school is busy and stressful. But don’t get me wrong, I love my book publishing program. I’ll be sad to leave next month, but sometimes I just have to do something else. PSU has no shortage of cool events for students, and last Saturday was no exception.

I decided to go to the Pacific Islander’s Club 14th Annual Lu’au called “Sailing through the Stars.” It was held at the Stott Center a block from my apartment and the entrance was free for students, so I thought, “What the heck, a lu’au sounds fun.” I’m so happy I went.

First off, the place was packed—students, kids, elderly folk—it seemed like every age range wanted to participate. The dinner had traditional food, including Kalua pork, a lovely guava juice, and even wide range of desserts. (I chose poi for my dessert, a purple paste made of taro root but tasted a little like pineapple.)

The entertainment was quite fun. They had a show with traditional music and dances all from different islands, like Hawaii, New Zealand, and Fiji, among others. (Plus there were fire dancers, and they’re just plain hot. Pun intended.)

Overall it was a great night. It made me forget my stresses for a while, and we all know that forgetting your stress, even for a moment, is important. If you’re still here next year, make sure to add this event to your ToDo. It’s one you won’t want to miss.

Why I Went to LA Last Weekend

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

Last February I wrote about Write to Publish 2016 and how it was an awesome networking opportunity. Let me tell you a secret: Write to Publish is a tiny conference. Adorably small, actually. How do I know this? Because last weekend I went to the conference connected to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, widely known as AWP.

AWP is the largest literary conference in North America. Last year, they had over 800 vendors, 12,000 attendees, and 2,000 presenters. This year, they had the same, if not more. Write to Publish (while amazing) was a mere whisper to all this literary noise.

Plus, AWP was in Los Angeles this year, and I’d never been before. A new city, thousands of writers and publishers, and tons of books? Yes, please! Additionally, I was given a Marie Brown Graduate Student Travel Award to help pay for it. And while I was going as an attendee, I was also there to represent my graduate program in book publishing and Ooligan Press.

I went to panels, readings, and chatted with fellow writers; I tabled, gushing about Ooligan and Portland State University; I visited vendors, doing much of the same; and I even tried Korean waffle pizza. It was three long days, but it was also an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was an opportunity PSU helped to pay for, and I wouldn’t have had the same experience without such lovely support.

What kinds of conferences have you been to?

My Major Networking Opportunity

Kellie Doherty  By Kellie Doherty

The Write to Publish 2016 conference is over. Write to Publish is an annual writing conference, and it’s a great place to find some interesting contacts and meet some influential people. (I also organized it this year, so I may be a tad biased.)

One of the great things about my graduate program (MS in Book Publishing) is the hands-on learning we have and the networking opportunities that arise from that dynamic environment. To say I made a few contacts working on Write to Publish would be an understatement, and last Saturday, I finally got to meet the people I’ve been communicating with for the last six months. I got to shake their hands, introduce myself, and put faces to all those emails.

One of the great things about this year’s conference, though, is half of our attendees were college students! I was pleasantly surprised by this, because it means they got to meet all those speakers and vendors, too! It was the perfect networking opportunity for students interested in going into publishing, one that showcased many publishing professionals and gave the students a chance to connect with them. I know it will help me, and hopefully many others, find a job in the future. So, if you didn’t get the chance to make it to this year, mark it on your calendar for 2017! It’ll be a great place to sharpen your networking skills.

And if you were there, how did it go?

Avoiding My Public Speaking Freak Out

Kellie Doherty By: Kellie Doherty

The Write to Publish 2016 conference is two weeks away, and I’m starting to freak out for many reasons. One reason is, as a co-manager, I get to give the closing remarks. Yes, public speaking makes me tense. I’m in good company; public speaking is feared even more than death. It’s also something nearly every class has made me do, so you’d think I’d be used to it.

Nope.

Whenever I get up in front of a group of people, I tend to get nervous. And not the cute, blushing kind of way (though my ears do turn bright pink). I get freakishly nervous, the dry mouth, trembling, can’t-see-straight kind of nervous, where the room pitches and everything blurs.

To combat this freak out, I’ll prepare. Actually, I’ll memorize. I’ll recite my speech many times, in front of the mirror, in front of my friends, in front of my cats. To anyone who will listen.

It might be a catch from my drama days when I actually had to memorize my lines. It might be something from my toastmasters group that had a “no notes” policy. Or it could just be a weird little quirk of mine.

Regardless, it helps. I know I’ll be nervous that day for myriad reasons. I know I’ll have that freak-out moment right before I have to speak. But I also know my process works, and, after a few deep breaths, I’ll do a great job.

What’s your public speaking process like?

 

Putting the Pub Back in Publishing

Kellie Doherty

By Kellie Doherty

Every year the second-year graduate students of the book publishing program join the new students (we call them “little fish”) at a local bar. Last year it was at Cheerful Tortoise and this year, Rogue. Not all the little fish go, of course, but the ones who do get to meet the second years and mingle with their incoming class. It’s a fun process, and one I was glad to be a part of two years in a row. I have to say, though, the way I felt about this informal meeting couldn’t be more different.

Last year, I was part of the incoming class. I was the little fish. It was seriously overwhelming, meeting all these new people and hearing about the jobs the second years had, but it felt good to be part of a group, too. Knowing I could learn from these awesome people diminished some of the fear of starting the program.

I’m a second year now. I know things! I’ve been through the gauntlet, survived, and had a blast! So when I walked into the bar and saw all the cheerful (yet apprehensive) faces of the little fish, I felt pretty good about easing their worries. At the very least, I made them feel welcomed, feel part of a group like the second years in my term did for me. And hopefully, when it’s these little fishes’ turn, they’ll do the same, too.

Do any of your programs have an informal meeting like this?

The Graduation Blues

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

I have a countdown app installed on my cell phone. It has three events on it: Portfolio Due, Thesis Defense, and Commencement, each with their own countdown timer. It tells me that I have six days left to finish my portfolio, thirty-six days left to panic about my thesis, and fifty-nine days until I will (with any luck) walk across the stage at the Moda Center, beaming, having earned a Master’s degree in Writing and Book Publishing.

That day feels both terrifyingly close and impossibly far away. There is so much to do before then, so much that could go wrong. And yet, even though it feels like my two-year degree program started yesterday, I feel confident. My education and experiences have equipped me with both a unique range of skills and, perhaps more importantly, the confidence to go forth into the mysterious beyond of post-graduation adulthood.

Never mind that I still waited until the last possible minute to file my taxes this year, or that I opt for pizza and Netflix instead of cooking a real meal more than I’d like to admit.

Over the past two years, I’ve juggled a full graduate course load, 2-3 jobs and internships each term, a serious relationship, and a leadership position on campus. Both of my parents were hospitalized due to medical conditions within the last few months too. To be frank, I’ve been a walking bundle of stress.

Keep-Calm-and-GraduateIf I could pass along one piece of advice to my fellow students, it would be this: learn how to manage your stress. Because you will, inevitably, face a point in your life when everything seems to come crashing down. Knowing how to relax, how to let go and take care of yourself – these are things that I never learned until I really needed them, and looking back, I wish I had learned them sooner. Now I know better: I recognize my limitations, and I listen to my body when it tells me to slow down, go for a walk, or pour a bubble bath.

But thankfully, both of my parents are recovering, my portfolio is coming along nicely, and my friends have been both patient and supportive. I bounced back. I’ve made lasting relationships – both professional and otherwise – and worked with some truly talented authors, students, and educators in my program. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I look forward to the future waiting on the other side of that stage.

Three Tips for Staying Organized

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

As a graduate student, I’ve learned the hard way that time management and organization can be your best friends when used properly — and your bitterest enemies when not. The modern student isn’t JUST a student anymore: most of us juggle jobs, internships, volunteering, creative projects, and relationships too. As the term really gets underway, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. On the bright side, there are a lot of useful tools and tricks out there to help you stay on top of things. Here are a few that have really made a difference for me:

  1. Trello. This is my go-to app whenever I work on a collaborative project. You can create virtual assignment cards, which are organized within themed boards. You can also assign tasks, add due dates, create checklists, upload files, and color-code to your heart’s content.
  2. Wunderlist. This app is your standard to-do list on steroids. Similar to Trello, you can share task lists with others as well as set up due dates and reminders. I use this app for my personal lists because of its simplicity. I keep one for homework assignments, one for events I want to go to, and one for groceries.
  3. Labeling in Gmail. Seriously, this is a game-changer if you receive a high volume of mail. I use labels such as “reply,” “education,” and “finances.” You can even create sub-labels, assign colors, and adjust your settings so that your mail is automatically labeled and sorted.

What tools and tricks help you stay organized?

Grand Master Jenna: From graduation to job applications

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by Jenna Rae Tucker

Well here we go again, graduation time. This time it is with a master’s degree.

You know what that means? JOB APPLICATIONS! Hooray. That was sarcasm. If you didn’t read it snarkily in your head, go back and read it again. Filling out applications is the worst. How awesome should I say I am? How do I appear super confident but moldable at the same time? Is there a way to convey that I know everything but also need, and am open to, learning new skills? Filling out applications is on par with networking. If you need a refresher on why networking is evil, please click here:

Now, I have a whole application process. First, I think about the time I just spent getting a degree and only apply for jobs that I REALLY want. I am about to be a Master, people should be elated to even RECEIVE my application. Then, when I don’t hear back from anyone, I start applying for anything that is full time and could be considered related to communication. When that also fails, I get super anxious and apply for anything that will throw money at me in exchange for a service…okay, not ANYTHING and also not throwing, but you get the point.

What makes this whole thing even worse is that I am applying for jobs in LA since my dumb boyfriend lives there. EVERYONE WANTS TO WORK IN LA! Not only that, but applying out of state is the pits. Grrr. I hope this whole getting-a-master’s thing wasn’t a mistake. Come on future, go ahead and get brighter.