Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Day 6: The hills are alive... with the sound of writing.

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From my porch I have a clear view of the mountains that hem in the Coachella Valley. In the morning when I open my curtains, the hills I see are a burning red. At night as the sun drops behind them, they look dark blue and grey. In the afternoons, they're a rich brown that juts up into the sky. The change the desert shows in just a day is so moving.

In December when I first came to Palm Springs I was struck by how alien it seemed. It was so different from the thick green and granite mountains in Northern California. The desert seemed too harsh and strict. I didn't feel at home yet with my peers in this program and I didn't feel at home in this landscape. But each has grown on me, for sure. I'm thankful for the view I have from my room this year--it feels too good, like something unreal. And residency is much more comfortable in terms of the human experience, which is good. There's so much to learn here that I'm glad not to be fighting my fears about meeting people anymore.

I've been deep in my own head most of the day today, though. As I sit on my porch with a beer right now, watching everyone walk back to their rooms from workshop, I'm feeling like there's more on my brain than I can manage. I sat down with Tod, the director of the program today to check in about my progress. He immediately seized upon the thought (and fear) I'm having about this summer, which is that I need to spend it figuring out exactly what story it is that I need to tell, what I am passionate about writing. To this point I've been on a journey just to explore and to soak up as much as possible. Now it's time to decide where I'm headed for the rest of my academic career--and ultimately the rest of my writing life. Ultimately, this includes exploring what I am not writing at this point--what I am skirting and avoiding and dancing around. I don't know exactly what that is, but I am sure some time spend in reflection will give me answers. It's the kind of thing I can't mark out a space on the calendar for, though. I can't just make a list and cross it off. So today I've been a little spacey.

It could be that it's Wednesday night, and we're about halfway through the program, and I miss my kids, and I feel completely normal doubts and worries and concerns about my place here and writing's place in my life at home. I think that kind of thing is expected. Tomorrow is a light day--no workshop--and I plan to spend it doing some quiet thinking. Today's lectures and workshop were good, but I think the most valuable thing to come out of it is the fact that I'm questioning myself and my work. That's not a comfortable space, but it's a place of growth. Or at least I hope it is.

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