Gabe’s First Year Project


First Year Project is a U of A Honors College first-year independent study program. One signs up at the start of second semester, finds a faculty mentor, and works on a project that one chooses for the semester. In mid-April, all of the projects are showcased and the winners in each categories get money. Now, about my project:

  1. It started in November, when I wrote a first draft for National Novel Writing Month. While it was less of a mess than what I wrote last year, it was still dreadful, and I had no idea what I’d do with it.
  2. Though I left my NaNoWriMo work from 2014 untouched, this year I decided that I wanted to revise my draft, and my first year project was born. I just needed a mentor. After browsing the Creative Writing faculty list, I decided to go with Julie Iromuanya (who’s an amazing writer and who has a book you should buy) since she’s a novelist and her work seemed interesting.
  3. Next was the work. Along with having me send ~22 pgs to her, she had me reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post over winter break and answer a few questions about myself. Once break ended, we talked about the book and I got a marked-up version of the pages I sent her.
  4. After that, this revision process was repeated throughout the semester. I’d send work, she’d read it and give feedback, I’d revise based on that feedback, I’d send more work. Through this process, I made more discoveries about my story and ended up with something much stronger than I started with.
  5. Once it was almost time for the showcase, we worked on line-by-line edits to make the story as nice as possible. Also, since every project needed a poster for the showcase, I worked on mine with help from the lovely, amazing, and extremely talented Phoebe. I was worried about the poster since it isn’t a medium that’s suited for books (it’s more of a science fair thing) and I’m not a designer, but I was actually proud of what I came up with. (Poster linked at the top of this post).
  6. The day of the showcase: I had my newly created poster, three copies of an excerpt from my first chapter, and myself. I stood for three hours answering questions from viewers about my project and letting them read the excerpt. This was actually a lot of fun; I got a lot of interest and positive feedback. Favorite moments include talking with a sweet eight grader who came with her parents and who wanted to be a writer, and talking with the event photographer, who’d majored in English and Creative Writing.
  7. After the showcase, they announced the results. I lost. Not so enjoyable. Thankfully I got food with Phoebe and Dominique afterwards, which made the day much better.

Overall, the process was really enjoyable. I’ve never put this much work into a single project before, and it’s definitely stronger than anything I’ve done as a result (and I’m not even close to finished).

Other stuff:

  • Good to be back!
  • Have to write letters/emails to various people but I’m such a bum that it hasn’t happened yet. Now that FYP is over, my main excuse is gone, so hopefully those are written in the next few days.
  • Just to reiterate, Julie Iromuanya is very cool and you should buy her book.
  • Emailed Alyssa Wong (a very talented fiction writer) a few days ago and didn’t really expect a response, but I just got one now which is pretty exciting 🙂
  • So over school right now. Less than a month left and I just wanna get out of here. Not looking forward to being at home for three months though :/
  • Am looking forward to a summer of reading 🙂 Have so many books on my shelf to get to, and am planning on asking some of my professors for reading lists. Actually, about 30 minutes after the showcase, I went to the bookstore and bought two Edith Wharton novels to console myself. #justenglishmajorthings
  • And maybe some summer romance? I’ve not been too fortunate here, which, though I’m proud of myself for trying, is a bummer. If you’re a beautiful Chicago woman and happen to be reading this, you should give Gabe a call.
  • Living with my roommate and a few other people in a house next year and it’s actually a very cool place. Looks great, is in a quality neighborhood, and the rent is pretty cheap. I’m excited!
  • Sex and the City is life. That show has basically carried me through this semester (I’m on S5 EP6). If you’re looking for something great to watch, you should also check out High Maintenance. It’s a web series and finishing the whole thing only takes an hour or two. Watched it all with Dominique and Corey and I don’t regret it. Also, that same weekend the dude in the room across from me did the same thing on the same day even though we’d never mentioned it to each other. I think there was something in the air.
  • Neftaly better post soon 😡



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