If One Door Closes, Build Another Door

So I guess I can announce this now that we’re a little more in the workings.

Last December or so I began really questioning what it was that I’m doing. I was wondering whether or not all this school was going to land me a job, if it was worth it, and so on. Given that my degrees are so obscure (well, English and Philosophy), I wondered if they would actually guarantee my employment as I had been told by my English and Philosophy instructors.

When relaying my doubts to a friend of mine in Wales on Christmas, he simply said that if I don’t get the job I want in publishing, I can just create my own publishing company.

It was brilliant. However, one needs printing equipment for all that, but not for a magazine. A magazine you can send off to get printed and bound. So, I recently got together a cracking team, and we have been working to start up our very own student-run magazine. I am so thrilled for this. The idea is that it revolves around creative writing. We have a featured writer, a featured artist, and a few other short stories as well as a poetry section, and we also have a couple of articles in the back revolving around publishing, editing, and so on.

Because of the local call for writers and students, we wanted something local in the title. We also wanted to expand to another county, for the moment. Who knows, it might take off and we can expand further south again. We also wanted to acknowledge the area that we live in and its history, since it’s so beautiful and rich with culture. So we settled on the name of the Kulshan Digest, after the mountain that sits on the boarder between Whatcom and Skagit County. The mountain is commonly known as Mount Baker, but it’s indigenous name is Kulshan.


We have launched our Twitter and our Facebook Page as well, please be sure to follow it! Soon we’ll have our webpage up, as well as an exact date for launching our prototype. We are aiming for mid June to early July, with the actual Issue I to be launched in September, then quarterly from there.

I know, I know, I’m planning on dashing off to the UK in September and going to school there. However, that’s part of the plan. Obviously, none of us can be students forever. This is designed to be passed along to each “generation” of students, and as a result, is a non-profit. The idea is that as we are learning our leadership roles, we are constantly training new people, which also keeps us humble.

I am so thrilled for this. I’ll keep the updates coming!


Rewrite, Resubmit, Yet No Review

After finally gaining the gumption, I was able to open the file with the suggestions to my story. I was horrified when I saw the dozens of little comment bubbles along the column of the word document. I tried to channel my inner English-stiff-upper-lip before I opened them.

They were nothing exciting. One criticizing the name of my character, which was fine since I had a rebuttal for why it wasn’t going to change; the vast majority were pointing out typos or formatting errors. In fact, it was all nothing I couldn’t handle.

I spent the rest of the evening revising, and had a new draft ready by Friday morning. I sent it to three writer friends, and two other close people to help me read over for anything I missed. My goal was to have it revised and sent back Sunday night. One promised she could get it back to me by then, two I never heard from for confirmation, and two said they could get it back to me Sunday night, though probably after I went to bed.  I resolved that I wouldn’t get it sent off until Monday morning (today) before I went to work.

I got up, ready to spend some time with the revisions that were sent me. I got up extra early to do so. There was nothing in my inbox. Nothing in my Facebook messages, nothing in any other form of chat waiting for me that had anything to do with my writing. I checked my junk mail, and any other place I thought to that feedback might be waiting. No where.

I had five people say they would get to it. Not one did.

I held my breath and sent off my unreviewed revision. When I got the email responding to my first submission, they told me I had five days to revise and respond. I wanted to do it in three so there was some possible turn around time should I have missed anything. Today I work ten hours, and have a few other things on my plate, never mind whatever business they have going on their schedule. I can only hope that we both have time for any potential further critique/revision that might need doing.

I feel let down, and I grapple with myself trying to figure out if I had asked too much, if I have the right to feel let down. But then I remind myself that this is only a short story, only 13 pages, and I gave all the parameter of what I needed done, and the option to say “no”. Feeling this way at 3 in the morning kind of sucks.

So my suggestion to those good friends out there who want to be helpful: it’s more helpful if you tell someone you can’t do it from the get-go rather than tell them you can do it and end up letting them down. It’s easier on you, it’s easier on your friend. Disappointment is not a fun feeling to experience, and I assure you that your friend would rather feel the mild annoyance that you can’t do something when they first ask, rather than wait patiently for a few days for it to happen and be disappointed when it doesn’t.

Be a good friend. Just be honest.

My First Rejection as a Writer

A few weeks ago I sent in a story for potential publication. I’ve never done this before, and it’s somewhat terrifying. It’s not something big, mind you, this publication. It’s a local anthology that’s looking for writers. I was recommended by a friend.

I chose a story that I thought would be relevant, though it is something that I wrote in high school. I of course made copious revision efforts before sending it in.

My friend emailed me the other day, saying that he had read it. “I’d rather talk to you about it face to face.” Knowing that I wouldn’t see him until Thursday (today), this was something painful. It’s like your teacher writing on your paper that you get back at the end of class on Friday to see them on Monday to discuss your grade. You have all those days to obsess and worry about it, create horrible scenarios of what’s going to be said. I wrote back and told him how mean he was for letting me know that so long before I’d see him–nicely, of course.

I have seen him at work, I haven’t talked to him about it. In fact, he’s sitting at the table next to me as I write this, and I still don’t have it in me to ask him about it (he seems very busy).

I also got the response from his friend, stating that my story isn’t ready to publish, that there are some suggestions, and that I should join a critique group for writers.

All my fears gathered up and dished out at me. I’ve spent the last few days since my friend talked to me considering how I’m going to handle this. I went through alterations of telling myself to toughen up, of course this is going to happen because I haven’t given myself the chance to shape my fiction. I’ve been too afraid–of exactly this–to show anyone my work. My essays I have absolute confidence in because I’ve had reviews. Not my fiction, which is where my passion truly is. The other intense feeling is the overwhelming feeling of doubt: that I should give up being a writer, and that all my personal projects that I’m trying to get going is just a silly fancy; that I should just give the Freaking Ugly Cat Kickers up–with writing, school and everything. I’m just fooling myself.

I haven’t read the suggestions for my story yet. I’ve been trying to muster the bravery, trying to remember the last line of the email:

“You’re a good writer, and I don’t want to discourage you from writing or from submitting. I recommend joining a critique group to help you develop your kills.”

So I sit here, trying to get up the courage to read the damn suggestions, revise my story, and resubmit within five days. Yep. Still battling the above.

The University Update

I was told by UCAS (which is the website through which I applied to all my UK schools) that I can’t accept any of my offers until I hear from each of the schools that I’ve applied to. I’ve been waiting on the University of Exeter for quite some time now.

Finally, yesterday morning I got an email from them. I was thrilled! I just want to be able to say “yes” to Durham and be done with it. However, Exeter was simply reminding me that they haven’t received the documents they requested, and that I had until the first of March to send them.


I looked back in my email history, and sure enough, there was the email requesting my transcripts upon completion, sent in November–while I was in Salt Lake City, no less. I suppose that considering my location at the time, and that I was preparing to give a talk at a conference at that time, it’s forgivable that it slipped my mind, especially since I wasn’t to graduate until a month later. However, I sent off my transcript last night, and hopefully will hear from them again.

I also heard from Durham yesterday morning. I was informed that I had been accepted into Van Mildert College. Since I was under the impression that I had to apply to get into a college, I was quite pleased, though plan on turning it down. That being said, as I read more into it, it seemed as though the college isn’t quite what I had expected. I thought that colleges were rather like the dorms over here, just the community with which you lived. However, the website talks of their nightlife, the instructors and so on, which causes me to question whether or not I should be staying at the college.

I haven’t really had too much time to look into the matter with much depth yet, however, it’s something that I will be sharing my research on.

Still Figuring Funds

I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t look into this sooner. I just applied for FAFSA for Durham University. No idea why I didn’t do this sooner.

Because all the universities I’ve gotten into so far are counting me as a non-resident, and it’s going to take me 3 years to gain residency–which, by the way, is the duration of my Bachelor’s degree–I’m looking at £16,500 for tuition. That translates to about $23,600 as the currency rates stand now.

There’s the possibility that I can get $14k toward school, which still leaves me another $8.5k to figure out, but I’m over half way there! I’m still looking into scholarships and loans overseas, but this is a start, if I can manage getting it.




How Am I Funding This?

While I still haven’t heard from my fifth university, all the rest that I’ve applied to in the UK have responded. However, all of them are treating me as an overseas student.

A possible technicality has come into play: From my understanding of my research, if I’m treated as an international student, I’m ineligible for any student loans or scholarships over there. However, all but one of the schools who have accepted me are treating me as an overseas student. Does this meant that I’m eligible for the financial aid and scholarships, but still locked into non-residential tuition costs?

That’s what I’m trying to find out.

I emailed Durham University about the matter on Friday, and only this morning got a response (the weekend and time differences and all that).  The lady in the financial department there sent me to two websites:

Unfortunately, the first link only allows me to call them, so I need to find a way to do that. The next unfortunate bit is that it would appear that I don’t qualify for Student Finance.

This leaves me with two options to put into play (if I do manage to contact someone and they tell me I truly don’t qualify)–well, four I suppose (though the fourth is an absolute last resort).

  1. Scour every scholarship I can find both here in the States as well as in the UK and apply to them all.
  2. Put off school for a year and work to save up the first year’s tuition, and continue doing that until I gain residency (which could be three years).
  3. See if I’m able to get any bank loans through my NatWest account (in England)
  4. See if I can get a student loan from my credit union in the US.

I am still optimistic that I can make this happen, and am prepared to take a year off to work and get some money saved up. I’m not above hard work, especially if I have a goal in mind. I think I’ll be able to save my funds better as well if I’m in a place where I’m not as tempted to go out and do fun things, a place where I don’t know what there is to do for fun (you know, like Durham).

We’ll see how it goes, but as it stands, this is where my future as a student resides.