Class of 2017

I was supposed to be class of 2018. It feels so weird. I don’t really know what I’m doing anymore. I graduated college – technically. But I didn’t stick around for the ceremony and stuff like that. I’m just not into that sort of thing so it almost doesn’t feel official. And that bothers me. It’s like the rest of the world won’t validate me because my diploma is being mailed to me instead of me walking across a stage in an expensive cap and gown that I would only ever wear once in my life. I didn’t want the fanfare or any of that, but it would be nice to feel like I really did something.

It also feels weird because for the first time in about 16 years I don’t have plans for the fall. Originally my best friend and I had planned to move to Indianapolis, but that just isn’t going to happen at that point in time, maybe by January, but the fall is so up in the air I don’t remember what it looks like.

I’m also looking at getting a job in my field – for which I need more experience than I actually have – or even possibly, graduate school, but those just don’t feel right at the moment. I mean, I know I’ll have to have a full-time/permanent job of some sort eventually. How can I get away from that? I mean, I’m also looking into being an entrepreneur/freelance writer, but I don’t quite know if that’s right yet. What do I do? What is right?

I feel pressured from all sides right now to “grow up” and “get a big girl job” and to know what I want to do with my life. But the problem is that no one seems to remember that I’m only 20 years old and most people my age don’t have to have a clue for another year or two. I’m getting out of college a year early, two if you want to be technical since I barely made the birthday cut and started school a year early, and that’s confusing.

My parents think I should go back to school for that masters of library science as soon as I can because the longer you stay away from school the harder it is to go back, but I just don’t want to go to school for that anymore. I don’t want to be a librarian anymore. And frankly, I’m so done with school right now that it’s scary.

PLUS! I have a bachelor’s degree already which neither of my parents do. I’m already ahead of where they are speaking from experience. If I don’t want to go back right away I don’t think it’s a big deal. Why spend THOUSANDS of dollars on a master’s degree that I don’t even want?

I feel like a kid again who changes their mind on who and what they want to be when they grow up – every five minutes.

But I do know that library science is not for me.

Here’s the thing, though.

Retail – which I’ve been working all of college, is SO NOT my thing. I don’t do as well as I would like, though my employers seem to think I’m pretty good at it. I don’t enjoy it. I dread it. I even cry over it. But a 9-5 office job, or library job, which can be exciting but is also pretty well structured and you have to wear nice clothes all the time, be at certain places and have your day scheduled out in some form, and you basically sit at a desk all day – that really doesn’t appeal to me either.

I need adventure and I need a more chaotic lifestyle to thrive. I don’t like to be overworked unless I’m choosing to do it rather than being required to. I don’t like to be bossed around at all. (I’m a rather dominant personality.) And unlike most people my age, I didn’t live the first twenty years of my life socializing and doing fun and interesting things. I lived the first twenty years of my life with my nose in a book and waiting for interesting things to happen to me. I’ve only just gotten a taste of what it is to have fun and go on “adventure girl” moments.

I want to write more than anything. But it’s Sunday night as I begin this post, two days after graduation and this is the first thing I’ve brought myself to write since I finished school.

I had a professor whose mantra is was to say “Writers write and when we don’t write we read,” and dear lord, school did a number on me and my writing. I was required to do so much that I started avoiding writing at all costs. I do anything but write and I don’t write unless I have to now because it got so stressful. Let me say something to all writers right now that are looking at a creative writing program.

DON’T DO IT. Major in anything else. Just do not major in writing. Major in literature, history, or a science of some sort. Majoring in writing will alienate you from your craft. don’t make it your life. Make it your art. make it the thing that allows you to do the other things. Do not make it the thing that you have to do. Make it the thing that you want to do. Take a few writing courses, eve take it as a minor if you have to, but do not make it the only thing you do.

Don’t get me wrong. I am forever grateful to BSUEnglish and what they made me into as a writer and a student, but take my advice with my newly minted bachelor’s degree in the damned craft. If you really love writing you’ll do it no matter what you major in. I promise. If it’s not what you really want to do, then you aren’t a writer and weren’t meant to be – just yet. There’s always time to write. If you aren’t six feet in the ground yet, you have time to write that great American novel, or the great French novel, or the great Canadian novel. Whatever Great insert your: nationality/ethnicity/sexual orientation/planetary preference here Novel. Those are the facts of life.

If you major in anything else you will learn so much and you’ll have fuel for your writing. You’ll become something else. You will learn to do things that you’ll get a job doing and you’ll write about it all and you will have so much to write about. And you will be amazing.

Me – I can almost feel myself about to move into my grandparents’ permanently as I work at Lowes or some other retail place for the rest of my life while I try to write. I don’t have a degree that qualifies me for much other than academic or office type jobs.

If I go back to school for anything it’ll be for a second bachelor’s I think. Maybe in Zoology, like my best friend, or in environmental studies, some science that lets me be outside and doing fun and interesting things. Something that will take me on a real adventure. Or maybe I’ll find an apprenticeship program and get my dog training licence. That sound like more of an adventure than what I’m working with right now.

I wish I could post a Bilbo Baggins “I’m going on an adventure!” meme right now but I don’t feel like it’s appropriate at the moment. I’m looking for an adventure rather than going on one right now. Eventually I’ll get there, and when I do there will be LOTR memes galore. I can promise you that.


The Final Final

It’s my final semester. As such I am working on my finals. Being an English major, that means portfolios and revision work, even adding a new short story to the ranks of stories that I submit to magazines to attempt publication. But for my LAST EVER college final, I was a little frustrated to find out that none of these difficult things was the difficult thing that I had to do. For this final I am to hand in a piece of work, a narrative, that is not written and printed out traditionally… so, being me, the fact that I wanted to make something difficult for my professor, I made a puzzle! Or I tried to… something backfired. But! I photo documented it! So here it is. Professor Lovelace, if you’re reading this you got the memo on the back of my piece that I handed in. Here is how it came to exist.

A Puzzling Final

by M.K.Harlan

Step 1: Gather your materials and commandeer a friend’s coffee table.


Before you begin, you must be certain you have the proper materials. You will need:

  • A Cheap Puzzle ($2 @ Walmart for a 48 piece puzzle) It is important that you choose a puzzle that you do not wish to keep. I have not seen Trolls and frankly, I’ve always thought they were kind of creepy. So I didn’t mind using this puzzle. Now, if you had asked me to use my cool glow in the dark puzzles that I like to tear apart and put back together we might have an issue.
  • Mod Podge, aka puzzle GLUE! This is very important to the project as it will allow you to decoupage your work onto the puzzle, and it will hold your puzzle together while you compile your masterpiece!
  • Sponge Brushes: One small, for applying the Mod Podge, and one large for a pretty and symmetrical picture of you process.
  • An Exacto Knife: This will be for separating your puzzle later. (or attempting to) It will also be the item that makes your friend doubt their safety and choice of letting you commandeer their coffee table. It will cause her roommates to leave the apartment and go to a bar because they don’t trust you with an Exacto either… but then again, what sane person would? You nutcase, you.
  • A Magazine that you don’t care about because it doesn’t really interest you. It’s fun to take things that distinctly sexualize women and turn them into feminist pieces of art. (hint hint)
  • You will also need a high gloss finish that will make you nauseous if you use too much of it in an enclosed space like your dorm room, which is why you have commandeered your friend’s coffee table.
  • You will also need a Tupperware container to place your finished project in when you’re done.
  • Finally, you will need a old blanket, towel, or bunch of newspapers, that you can throw away when you’re done to protect your friend’s coffee table that is already totally water damaged anyway.

Step 2: Put the Puzzle Together


There isn’t much to this step, we all learned how to put together puzzles, probably, before kindergarten. Now – shudder at the creepiness of this puzzle… that’s right, it’s creepy.

Step 3: Apply a Base to Cover Up the Creepiness


I used two extra copies of poems from my poetry portfolio, but you can use anything really, it could be wrapping paper.

Follow the Mod Podge instructions on how to glue things to one another and smooth with an old subway gift card that has no balance on it anymore.

It is crucial that it be a Subway card as a Jimmy John’s card is too freaky fast to be of any use, will destroy your project with their speed, and they are difficult to catch in the first place… plus, I don’t care for their sandwiches.

Step 4: Break for Choco Taco


It’s the night before your last day of finals, you haven’t seen these anywhere since elementary school and WALMART HAD THEM! You and your friend decided to splurge and dammit you aren’t old enough to drink yet, so INDULGE! Finals can wait!

Step 5: The Piece


Collage together something interesting, even if it’s creepier and more serial killer-ish than the original puzzle image.

Allow it to dry sufficiently.

Add any extra marks with sharpie and you are ready for the final step…

Step 6: The End


Begin separating puzzle pieces with exacto knife.

Almost remove your finger on the third puzzle piece, thank God that you didn’t actually hit it and you have really good reflexes. (Are you a ninja in your down time?)

Decide that this isn’t working and text your class friend, Hannah, to see if she thinks putting your photo-documentation on your blog and handing in the link with what you have of the piece will be accepted as your final. She will text you an affirmative and you will quietly celebrate inside your head.

Note: It is important that your friend be named Hannah! If they are not named Hannah this WILL NOT work!

Give your Tupperware container to your friend’s roommate and clean up your mess…

Step 7: You thought 6 was The End!

Write this blog post and begin praying that your professor has a sense of humor because he’s getting the only copy of this piece that exists outside of the internet and you’ll have to keep this post on your blog forever just in case he or anyone else wants to look at it in the future.

Double check your grammar and spelling, click publish and write the link on the back of the puzzle with your name and class information.

Now, it’s time to type the reflection on this piece that you need for that class so you can turn it in at noon on the last day of finals and get the hell out of dodge!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you end your last ever final with a BANG!

“Become a Writer! It’ll Be Fun!” – They

“Become a Writer! It’ll Be Fun!” – They

Do you ever have one of those days where you know you have to do a bazillion other things, but you can’t think of a single one of them and all you want to do is something else.  That was me yesterday. Today, I seem to not want to do anything.

Yesterday I started story boarding on paper and writing things down for the new piece I have in mind. I’m really excited about that, though I need to start working on some short fiction as well before I let this thing run away with me.


I call it storybooking – a cross between storyboarding and scrapbooking. I like doing arts and crafts on the floor in Robert Bell.

The Tower, is currently in a stage where I have to get things down on paper, but I haven’t started writing it yet. I let it sit for a few days and now I’m incubating the ideas some more, turning them, sitting on them, trying to decide exactly what I’m doing with them. It’s one of my favorite parts of the writing process.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret about the writing process. The writing… isn’t even my favorite part.

I KNOW! That’s ridiculous!

I actually love the planning and revising more than I love the actual act of writing the story. Planning and revising are relaxing and fun.

In the planning stage I get to relax, look at pieces of what I might use. Order them online and have them delivered. Maybe jot down a few notes or sketch out a floor plan, no heavy lifting.

In revision I get to refine and detail and tidy up. I get to make the real  purpose of the piece shine through.

But the actual writing, that’s the rough part. Sure, there are days where you get into a rhythm and you just go at it until you don’t know where the day went, and those days are great, those are the days I live for in the writing phase. But most of the writing phase is taken up by grunt work and manual labour. It’s blood sweat and tears.

It kind of feels like having a tooth pulled if you didn’t have any kind of anesthetic. (Or so I imagine.)

Writing is painful and today I seem to be avoiding it. I’m nowhere near that stage with The Tower, but I can feel myself avoiding getting to that stage just by not working on the storyboard.

So why do I do it? Why do I write at all?

I write because I have to. I write because if I don’t I’ll go even more insane than I already am.

I don’t know what’s going on right now, but I can feel with every second that I don’t write, the depression and anger creeping back into my life. And that needs to stop.

What am I doing?

Yesterday I put four works in progress (WIPs) to bed. Each WIP was at one time an inspired piece.

Rise of the Dragon’s Daughter started when I was sitting in a doorway of my high school waiting for my SAT math prep class to start. Eventually, it grew into my main work, with me finishing a draft of the first book in the series, or so I thought, my senior year of high school. I was urged to just edit for grammar, spelling and self-publish. I’m so glad that I didn’t do that like I had originally wanted to. As I went back over it for revision I figured out that there was a lot about the story itself that wasn’t sitting right for me. I’d told the wrong story. Now, after three years of revision work on the first third of the book, I need to step away. I’m not touching that manuscript again, I think for at least a year. It’s for the best.

Song of the Traitor King  I’m putting this to rest for good. This project has lost my interest and is just… done, but not in a good place done. I might use pieces of it elsewhere, or I might come back to it in a decade and see something new and start with a new piece based off of this one.

Dear… So this one is just shelved until I’ve had some experience outside the classroom to work with.

The Forest, a T.V. Series Script. I’m not sure why I started this one… a prompt I think and then I got excited about it… and then I got unexcited about it. I think this one needs some distance as well, just to figure out what the actual plot is. I have a setting, but no plot… and that is not a great problem to have. Without a plot you have no story and right now my plot is only a setting.

So here’s the thing. I’m putting all of these to rest. I think I want to work on some short stories for a while, see if I can’t publish some of them. Of course, I need to start said stories. I have started a new storyboard on Pinterest, we’ll see where that goes, but that looks like it would/will be a longer work and I’m not sure I’m at a place in my craft right now that I want to start writing that long of a piece just yet.

And while I’m putting these things to rest, I’ve come to a decision. I have to get out of the classroom if I’m ever going to write anything. My professor said that in class Tuesday and it’s been nagging me. I have to read, and I have to live, I have to do things. So…

I’m not going to graduate school this fall.

Continue reading

Hit by a Truck

I should be doing homework… but I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Two weeks ago was Spring Break. The weekend going into spring break I had to call off two days of work and I missed my Friday class because I couldn’t stop coughing. I had the fever, cold chills, aches and pains, and headaches you wouldn’t believe.

Now, I have woken with a sore, feels like it was swollen when I woke up, throat, ear aches, general aches and pains, and a low-grade fever. Luckily, my lungs don’t seem to be affected this time around. I’m really hoping it’s not the flu and it’s just a cold. I’m taking medicine and praying… a lot. Neither my grades nor my paycheck can afford this again.

The biggest issue is figuring out which aches and pains are illness and which are the normal aches and pains from being out of shape and leading a sedentary lifestyle… I’m a writer, it’s a working hazard.

In short, I’m a big baby and I hate being sick. I’m drinking an orange juice and sprite cocktail because vitamin C, the carbonation is kind of turning my stomach, but it’s helping the sore throat.

Hey, if you’re sick, why are you even writing this?

Well, helpful voice inside my head that I totally just used to change the subject, I’m writing this because I’ve written on this blog for two days in a row already and it feels good to do this. Cathartic.

It’s nice writing something that isn’t for school but isn’t just for me. It’s becoming part of my everyday routine. That’s something I’m finding I need more and more. Maybe at some point I’ll get some of my real writing in on that too. It helps to keep the depression at bay.

I guess I’m just having a day and allowing myself to indulge whatever whims I have. But I have homework so… I guess that’s enough for today. Maybe I need a nap.

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