Why I’m Annoyed by the Alumni Countdown

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

There is a sign on the alumni building on campus that went up on March 5 declaring “100 Days Until You Are An Alumni.” It’s been steadily counting down since then. I get it. It’s supposed to portray the happiness and excitement of graduation. It’s supposed to get the students pumped about being alumni of this fabulous university. It’s supposed to be encouraging.

Well, guess what?

For me—a graduate student in Book Publishing planning on graduating this spring—this countdown annoys the heck out of me. And quite frankly, it stresses me out. Why? It’s a constant reminder that I have 100 days, or 85 days, or 52 days to get all my crap in order. To find a job. To (maybe) find a new apartment. To (maybe) move to a new city. It’s a constant reminder that I have less and less time to get my final grad projects in. A constant reminder that May 20—my thesis defense date, the one that decides whether I pass or fail this program—is getting closer.

And that’s freaking stressful! With all the other ToDo lists in my life, all the other deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise), all the other stresses, I don’t need this one.

But…maybe I need to look at it differently. Maybe this looming countdown can be…a count-up to my new life instead. My next adventure. That’s a better way of thinking about it. For now, anyway. Don’t ask me on June 12.

What do you think of the countdown?

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?

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?