Does anyone have any data/experiences on the value, drawbacks, whatever of doing an MFA?

Management thanks you in advance. *g*
I have an e-mail in my inbox from my alma mater (hey, I can say that now! Look, I graduated from a place!) that tells me: "Get your resume-worthy alumni e-mail account."

You now belong to an impressive inner circle of U of T alumni. And with that hard-earned diploma comes a helping hand from your Alma Mater.

The perks begin with an alumni email account, as in "" It's a resumé-worthy email that says, "Hey, future boss, I graduated from one of the world's top universities."

It is accompanied by a banner ad that shows various early twentysomething people being slackery, long-haired, and iPod-listening next to e-mails like or, and then they get all cleaned up and professional and corporate with their alumni e-mail.

(I admit I'm a little offended that my World's Top University thinks I spent all that time there so I could job-hunt -- a month after my convocation, which means five months after classes let out, so I don't know whose thumb I'm supposed to have been sitting on for five months -- with But this is not that post. This is the post where I'm smug.)

So now I have a terrible temptation to write them back and be like "Oh, think that's professional and attention-getting and forward-thinking? How about [WORK E-MAIL]?"

I never said I was always good. :D

Worth every minute of the six years it took.
June 30, 2008 Progress Notes:


Words today: 2500.
Words total: 60,500 MS Word, 73,250 SMF.
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
73,250 / 85,000

Reason for stopping: Quota. Or knowing I'm not getting to 3k tonight.
Munchies: Bocconcini, cherries, and pears.

Darling du Jour: Jack is good and kind. Jack looks away and is quiet while I do my crying, and he doesn't say nothing about it from the time my voice goes down and my shoulders start to quiver from the time I get my breath back under rein again, swallow up the little gulps and wipe the tears and snot and sweat that comes from crying too hard off my face.

Words Matthew Won't Admit to Knowing: None tonight.
Mean Things: Shame. Finally getting some of the things people have been gently trying to pound through your head for months. More shame. And everyone, just everyone, being wrong.
Research Roundup: Exterior of Toronto General.
Books in progress: Charles Stross, Saturn's Children.
The glamour: A bean! I has it! Also, grocery shopping, other garden work besides gloating, and job-applying.

My graduation request is up on the university system. Although the summer marks aren't there yet, this gave me a little shiver of glee. I get to hit the button that says I'm out of here on Wednesday (as tomorrow is a statutory holiday, and buttons do not work on stats).

Today was quiet -- mostly recovering from the weekend, which encompassed two longish shifts at work and an awesome backyard barbeque yesterday afternoon, all in and around Pride Weekend. I didn't see much of Pride except the marketplace thing they do on Saturday (aka: the Dealer's Room), wherein I did not buy one (1) tee-shirt that said "Straight, Not Narrow" for lack of funds but did buy one (1) fresh-squeezed limeade. The best bit was probably Saturday morning, when I was walking down to College to get a streetcar to go to work (bus service gets wonky during the Pride Run), and passed a group of about fifteen runners of all genders wearing wedding dresses, shuffling mightily amidst the actual marathon-runners along Wellesley:

Runner 1: I'm tired.
Runner 2, adjusting veil: (acidly) All right, kids, are we doing this or not?

There was something just...peculiarly wonderful about that. :)

Now reading, and then shortly bed. Statutory holiday or not, I need to get a proper haircut and make stabs at finding some interview clothes tomorrow.
Back from Shakespeare exam.

Barring anything untoward, bizarre, and dystopian happening, I am the world's newest little university graduate.

Perhaps this will qualify me to know what to do with myself next. :p
June 11, 2008 Progress Notes:


Words today: 2000.
Words total: 46,500 MS Word, 57,500 SMF.
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
57,500 / 80,000

Reason for stopping: 2am again, although I'm wide awake. The humidity this weekend entirely messed up my sleep schedule.
Liquid Refreshment: Water.
Munchies: Mangoes! Strawberries! Sheep's-milk cheese!

Darling du Jour: (They didn't know what to do with my kind back then, he'd say with a gentle smile, and I'd ask lion-foot people? and he'd laugh and laugh, his rich Papa laugh, and go no no, people from Punjab. Indian people, he'd say.
One place Above was much like another for me, especially when I was knee-high to my Papa and followed him everywhere except the dark Duty shifts Above. "Do they now?" I asked him once, and the smile went away and his eyes looked elsewhere. No, he said. They do not.
Papa sad was frightening. I didn't ask again.)

Words Matthew Won't Admit to Knowing: apprehensive, vestibule. He did kind of want the second one, but we could not make a case for him having it.
Mean Things: Knowing everybody lies about how bad things really were for your father, because it's your father. And the girl who's famous for doing runners not waiting until you get home. And all this after two pitched battles in one day.
Research Roundup: Top 100 girls' names 1960-1969, common Quebecois surnames, 1960s immigration patterns coming into Toronto, grandmother and grandfather in Hindi.
Books in progress: Textbooks. No time for much else right now.
The glamour: Today was reasonably busy for not leaving the house. Packed up a story to go out, edited an essay to go in, worked on the garden, worked on job application, and worked -- hardcore -- on the grant application due next week, as well as the usual bits and drabs of support mail and so forth. Writing was fairly soothing after all that.

I really shouldn't be working on this right now -- I should be working either on my grant application or on the Shakespeare essay that's also due Monday, which I have not done nearly enough work on. Part of the grant application, however, is a synopsis, and there's about 15-20k of this book where I don't know what happens.

It's right after this bit that I'm working on now.

I'm not sure if I was thinking maybe if I worded it'd tell me what happens? This did not work. But doing something was a lot happier than beating my head against the synopsis for an unfinished book some more.

After putting together the literary resume and sending out the first fifteen pages (they want fifteen pages) to a few people on a quick turnaround, though? I am actually feeling some serious confidence in myself and this book today. I forget sometimes that I have at least a little awesome to my name.

Tomorrow evening is Laurell K. Hamilton, answering questions and signing at the Merrill Collection. I'll be working that, so if you have the missing 15-20k of plot that I can put in my synopsis, please feel free to put it on the doorstep there. :p

Bed now. Hopefully to sleep, hopefully to dream.
1) It is thundering most beautifully outside my window right now. This is beautiful because today's high is 33 C, and I barely got any good sleep because of the humidity even though my air conditioner is going at full blast. While asleep, though, I did dream that tonight's class on Macbeth was cancelled for a karaoke dance party featuring The Gutter Twins and then I was retouring an apartment I wanted six years ago but couldn't afford, and then there was a scavenger hunt going on for Queen Elizabeth II's jewels, and Doug Holyday was tied up in this somehow.

Don't ask me. I just work here.

2) I am also working on my essay from before, and becoming more and more convinced that "The Fall of the House of Usher" is serious genderfuck. This is good, because that means I'm probably arguing it well enough for the professor and will not get B for Bullshit on the paper.

3) Spam infoms us that "Rooster-challenged guys are welcome!". I know I wouldn't date a man who didn't own at least one hardy rooster.

4) As [ profile] wistling mentioned in comments when I did that housekeeping post (for housekeeping, please dial 2), poem "The Pack Rat's Manifesto" is in the current issue of On Spec along with a story of his and a story of [ profile] mrissa's. It is probably the happiest poem I will ever wrote. Nobody dies or anything! See it there, because it ain't happening again!

5) I planted another bean in the windowbox on Thursday to compensate for the bean plants that I lost last month (long story, mostly of my own idiocy). It has grown in the days since to be almost as big as the beans I planted over a month ago. Moral: hot humid weather is good for beans. Or possibly: this is the magic bean that I can climb to find the guys with the roosters.

6) I have found a job I might really actually want to apply for and do and think I'm qualified for. This is severely exciting. Shall apply tonight.

7) Mmm. Cherries.

*drags self back to the paper-writing*
"There are several bases upon which the fear of a loss of power can be linked specifically with gender. Biological theories of gender, wherein behavioural attributes derive directly from physical sex, held academic credence in Western society for centuries and persist in the popular consciousness."

O lord. I couldn't have put another buzzword in those sentences without upgrading to interrogate or dialectic, and they're in the paragraph before. La Belle Dame of Academese Sans Merci hath me in thrall.

Send trashy pulp novels! Send rescue dogs! :p
That Hell Exam on my birthday, which I mentioned only briefly in my metrics because it was sufficiently upsetting to elide? The one I walked home from shaken and broken and praying, and believe you me I am not a praying kinda girl?

The mark just showed up. I passed it.

My crazy Hell Semester is officially complete with all 4 attempted credits earned, a 3.2 sessional GPA, and my way clear to finishing my coursework for this degree in exactly five weeks for graduation at Fall Convocation.

Mission fucking accomplished. :D
May 15, 2008 Progress Notes:


Words today: 500.
Words total: 36,650 MS Word.
Reason for stopping: Not quite feeling it tonight. Besides, I was very good today and deserve an earlier night.
Liquid Refreshment: Water. And now some scotch.
Munchies: Chips and salsa, two pears, a mango, two peaches that weren't that good, and some nice cheese. Scrounge dinners are sometimes fun.

Darling du Jour: Eh. No darling. Said I wasn't feeling it.
Words Matthew Won't Admit to Knowing: vulnerable. Possibly because it was referring to him. ;)
Mean Things: One hundred years of Evil Asylum. And something by implication that again, is really foul if it's true. I need to think about it, though. I'm not sure if I'm getting to the point with some of the past history where I'm really laying it on a bit thick.
Research Roundup: The combustibility of dust. Upon which count the internet utterly failed me. Oh yes, it gave me a nice novel called "Fire and Dust" which is actually written by Jim Gardner, proving that the internet is really composed of maybe 500 player characters and the rest of you are NPCs, but nobody was saying anything on whether common household dust burned.

I ended up hunting myself a dustbunny and setting it on fire. Yes, in a controlled and fire-safe environment.

It didn't go whoosh.

I was kinda disappointed about that.

Books in progress: Jeffrey Ford, The Physiognomy, textbooks.
The glamour: Printing a story to go out for the first time since...December? (I've e-mailed all this year's subs so far), feeding of the shoggoth, class, gymming, banking, some garden fussing, the conquest of the stack of dishes that is no longer in my sink, support mail, and assorted whatnot.

Random hilarity from today: the Tuesday and Thursday class is The Short Story, with a professor I've already had and like, and today we did three from Edgar Allan Poe and two from Stephen King, one of which was The Mangler. In discussing the ongoing sort of...condemnation the story makes of mixing old forms with new -- exorcism with technology -- the professor came out with: "After all, I couldn't go up to the Pickering nuclear plant and sprinkle some holy water around and make it safer."

My immediate thought is, no, but that should work. Because it's too cool not to.

Rule #1 of the Universe According to Leah: all natural laws, including basic phsyics, can and should be trumped by AWESOME.
May 13, 2008 Progress Notes:


Words today: 1100.
Words total: 34,650 MS Word.
Reason for stopping: It's late! Agh!
Liquid Refreshment: Water.
Munchies: Two pears, two bananas, one mango. I did groceries today. *g*

Darling du Jour: The fire takes its mouth first. It don't struggle while the fire eats it up, head to tips of the fingers to toes, and gutters out on the busted tile floor. It don't scream either, and the stream of shadow fades, fire spreading in an arcing star through the room and then nothing, silence. A painting of black ash.

Words Matthew Won't Admit to Knowing: He didn't really balk at anything new tonight.
Mean Things: Evil asylum. Some backstory for one character that's...really, really bad if it's true.
Research Roundup: Diagnosing catatonia, androgynous baby names, forced gender reassignment surgery.
Books in progress: Jeffrey Ford, The Physiognomy, textbooks.
The glamour: Class, dishes, and groceries. Although we got to cap it off with a backrub.

Started the summer courses yesterday -- Topics in Shakespeare, the specific topic being treason, and The Short Story. So this is sort of Shakespeare Deathmarch 2008, only at about half-speed and less deathy since I read half these plays last summer. I did reread Richard II this afternoon in case. Couldn't hurt to be fresh, and I am reasonably confident that the workload here will not get so heavy that my brain will be taxed to the point of no writing. So we try to make it a more regular habit than once a week, I think. Right brain? Right.

Bed, now. There's Shakespeare to march on tomorrow.
April 9, 2008 Progress Notes:


Words today: 1000.
Words total: 29,000 MS Word.
Reason for stopping: I am getting sleeeepy. Dinner might help with this.
Liquid Refreshment: Water.
Munchies: Dried mango, two apples.

Darling du Jour: And that was the problem in the end, Corner and Atticus, bloodtouch hands and crab-claw arms and awkward, desperate loving. Not Corner nor Atticus was a soft-heart, rose-loving Beauty.
They were both claws and temper. They were both Beasts.

Words Matthew Won't Admit to Knowing: catatonic. Although he's okay with conciliator. Boy reads the wrong books.
Mean Things: Getting pitied. Shame in front of grownups. And in the write-forward, a very mundane kind of tragedy, more tragic for its mundanity.
Research Roundup: N/A.
Books in progress: Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam, Therefore, Repent!.
The glamour: Workshop work, library-fine paying, kitchen tidying, OWW crits. Today is actually ripe with glamour, but the good kind.

Today brought me one exam I did better on than I may have had any right to, one massage which fixed my left shoulder (which had seized up), two nice cheeses for breakfasts this week, a package of quail which is now marinating for my dinner, dried mango slices (at this point they too should get their own tag), some truly excellent news for/from a friend, words, and tee-shirt weather. I am sleepy and pleasantly content.

Today was also my last day of full-time classes. Ever.

Yeah, there's an essay to write (for Tuesday), a take-home exam (for the 21st), and then two more exams to write. But by and large? I survived the Death Semester, and looking over some of the stuff I got back this week, with some pretty damn good grades.

One credit to go to finish out this degree.

Leisurely 11am breakfasts commence tomorrow. :)
I never have to think about Phonology of L2 Accent or Poetry 1900-1960 ever again. I handed in the term paper for one and wrote the exam for the other yesterday. And then I got some sushi, ate it, and slept in this morning, and I am feeling an appropriate degree of lightness for the removal of two courses from my shoulders.

(No, I still don't have the e-mail which is supposed to tell me what's on the exam I'm to write tomorrow morning. Nobody in the class does, I think. But I could drive myself mad about that or...I could not.)

The balcony door has been open all afternoon, and the apartment is not yet cold. Also, the sun is shining, and all my avocado plants seem to know the season's turned. They're sprouting like crazy, as is the teeny money tree and the sage. And I woke up with a first line in my head: "For years after, (something four beats long)*, they did not put the place on maps." The post-apocalyptic city of "Six" has been eating my head since I subbed that story, to the point where I was reluctant to let it go, and I dreamed about it last night. Y'know, in case I didn't get the memo that the place wanted another story or three.

Specifically, running through the ruined garment district with China Mieville, since he had made himself a meta-author insert character and people were mad at him about it. We went to the bookstore. It was untouched and clean. Nobody loots books after the apocalypse, apparently, but also because books have their own magic and are self-protecting. We turned on the back light and ran our hands over the spines on the shelves, and I started thinking how I might live there in all the quiet ruined beauty of an abandoned Queen West. And for years after, weary with matters of chickens and salt, they did not put the place on maps.**

*Yes, I construct my sentences on the most fundamental level based on rhythm.

**That is not the right four beats.
[ profile] cristalia: There's a concept here in prosody called "eurythmicity".
[ profile] cristalia: I think that should mean the concept of prosody done in the style of Annie Lennox.
[ profile] cristalia: But it isn't. :-(
[ profile] kafkonia: Eurythmic City?
[ profile] stillsostrange: so, hot gender-fuck?
[ profile] cristalia: (I wonder how you'd do genderfuck prosody...)
[ profile] kafkonia: (Wear a pretend mustache?)
[ profile] cristalia: (You can't wear mustaches in your prosody.)
[ profile] matociquala: beards?
[ profile] cristalia: (you'd have to talk with the speech rhythm of a mustache.)
[ profile] kafkonia: (That's deep.)
[ profile] cristalia: (or beard.)
[ profile] matociquala: maybe the words could wear moustaches
[ profile] cristalia: heeee
[ profile] cristalia: and fake glasses.
[ profile] kafkonia: That's Marxist prosody.
[ profile] cristalia: Class critique!

The paper on acquisition of French stress patterns by English learners?

Sooo almost done. *g*

(And I want prosody! And I want prosody! And I want it so! it's an obsession!)
I got a Russian version of the Nigerian Scam Spam today, purporting to be from a Mrs. Deborah Vladimir.

I almost replied to it to say: "Russian has gendered patronymics! There is no such thing as a Mrs. Vladimir! Asshole!"

Linguist raaaage: defending you from spam since 2008. ;D

"Kryptonian International Remembrance Day", which is the poem I wrote after the Virginia Tech shootings, is live in the second issue of Oddlands Magazine. I normally wouldn't give the context for a poem like that, but it's pretty obvious.

Also, "Furnace Room Lullaby" is scheduled for the May 2nd issue of Pseudopod. 'Ware!


(Published in accordance with the Tenets of Book Reporting and the support of Viewers Like You.)

Books! We read them! )
Not-#19 -- Joel Shepherd, Crossover

I got maybe a chapter into this last night and put it aside as a qualified Not For Me. Not because there was something therein that offended me, or made me sad, or was abominably terrible or mean,'s just slushy.

In 35 or so pages it manages to hit most of the major bases of stuck-in-slushpile writing, including a mirror scene, coyness with information, rampant word rep (the tic word is "attractive", up to four times in two sentences at one point), loose and scaffoldy writing, 25 pages worth of exposition and wandering around a setting not quite sure what to do (aka: stalling for time) before the plot even thinks about happening, two sex scenes, and that thing peculiar to male writers of female characters who are supposed to be highly sexual where...the character views herself as sexual but in a way a third-party male person would do it. I think this falls under a not-fully-developed ability to maintain and empathize with character PoV. However, it sort of comes across as the author wanting to do his character, but the words being fed through the character's brain and mouth.

That is creepy as shit, let me tell you.

Writers are hereby invited by me to stop it.

So...yes. Not-#19. It's just made of too much slush.


The paper doesn't have to be good, it just has to be handed in on time.
The paper doesn't have to be good, it just has to be handed in on time.
The paper doesn't have to be good, it just has to be handed in on time.
The paper doesn't have to be good, it just has to be handed in on time.
The paper doesn't have to be good, it just has to be handed in on time.
The paper doesn't have to be good, it just has to be--
March 25, 2008 Progress Notes:

"Six" (working title)

Words today: 450.
Words total: 450.
Reason for stopping: Need this to cook, and I need to get to bed.
Liquid Refreshment: Water.
Munchies: Lemon meringue pie. Mmm, pie.

Darling du Jour: "Saturday's child has far to go," Six's father says under his fat moustache, and Six hates him. Father is the agribaron of the whole central district. Everyone in central knows him; he has three whole cars on the Moving Market staffed by Six and Joe's big sisters, and on Sunday market the papermen and water-sellers and the three rich owners of Hydro tip their hats at his clan through the windows.

Words Matthew Won't Admit to Knowing:
Mean Things: Envy. Getting ratted out.
Research Roundup: The Redpath sugar plant down by the lake; refining beet sugar; the number seven in folklore; clove cigarettes (I had to ask: I've never smelled one); etymology of "bad seed".

Best research bit tonight? "The sugar-refining industry often uses bone-char (calcinated animal bones) for decolorizing." Sugar is of death!
Books in progress: textbooks.
The glamour: I finished my paper with an hour to spare this afternoon and handed it in, despite it pissing fat snowflakes outside. I now know more than I ever cared to about the treatment quality available to women patients under the Galenic and iatromechanical models of the body. Tonight was declared Shore Leave. Two papers left to write before I am released from this semester into sweet, sweet freedom.

I apparently have two preoccupations this winter: the apocalypse and gardening. Look for apocalypse, gardening, and/or apocalypse gardening stories in fine fiction outlets near you once I can actually get some more done instead of starting fifteen million of them and letting them sit.

That's all. It's really been all Glamour this week. In three weeks (and two papers) I will be entertaining again, I promise.
I found my Go.

It was in the dried mango slices.

Dishes clean, produce and little granny cart for hauling groceries around bought, hair washed, and 500 words of essay on Eliot's Four Quartets to go before I can call it a night.

Remind me to never:

a) skip my vitamins
b) ingest caffeine
c) ingest foods high in white sugar
c.1) to the exception of real foods
c.2) for like a week
c.3) during the most important month of my semester
d) short myself on sleep
e) and all this on a few days where the ambient sunlight is really low

--ever again.


And to keep mango slices in the house.
February 20, 2008 Progress Notes:

"The Right People"

Words today: 500.
Words total: 500.
Reason for stopping: Petered out. This is hard on the prose level like the lesbian hedgewitches story was hard. And it's 4:30 and I've barely started any of the things I was supposed to do today.
Liquid Refreshment: Royal plum tea, acquired at the cheese store yesterday. It has little silky teabags.
Munchies: Pasta.
Exercise: N/A.
Mail: Small pile of poetry rejections in the last week.

Darling du Jour: The Right People walk the walk. You can see it in the long click-switch of their shoes on concrete down the middle of the sidewalk on a hot summer night. They don't walk regular, one-two-one-two; there's hitches in their walk. They switch up the rhythm just when you got it made; expert deejays of the street. They grin shag-teeth grins into their tiny phones with their elbows spread wide and point-jointed.
And you dance. Oh, you dance.

Tyop du Jour: N/A
Words MS Word Doesn't Know: handburned, boyo, gonna. I should just put 'gonna' in the dictionary there one of these days.

Mean Things: I can't get the shape of this in my two hands yet, but aside from fire, I'm sure there's plenty mean doing.
Research Roundup: Queen Street arsons.
Books in progress: Paul Melko, Singularity's Ring; textbooks.

The glamour: Doing lots of fidgety little things. Any work but the work we're supposed to be doing. But hell or high water, after this, I will start a paper on the structure of the Oresteia or else.

This is not the story I am looking for. But it's the story that's here.

It appears to be narrated by Tom Waits, circa 1977.

Also, I wrote a bio for a publication credit just now that comes out after I've graduated (aka, fallen off the side of the world into the great abyss of the unknown). I have started these things with "Leah Bobet lives in Toronto, where she studies linguistics and works in Canada's oldest science fiction bookstore..." for so long that it has taken me three days to formulate something different without getting the shakes ("Leah Bobet is not always good with life change."). By July, neither of those things may be true ("Leah Bobet does not know where she's going to be when this story comes out. She is somewhat daunted by this.").

Leah Bobet is going to write her paper now so she can graduate in June and make said abyss of uncertainty available for a July release date.
I read the Oresteia this afternoon for the Classical Modes of Literature class. Aside from being a truly kickass bit of drama -- no, seriously, it's blood and rhetoric all the way down -- it contained the following line in The Eumenides:

Leader of the Furies (to Apollo): "Never try to cut my power with your logic."

Dudes. Adam Savage is a Fury. :D

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