Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 10 & Final Thoughts on No. 3

I was packed and ready to hop in my car by late Saturday night... all I had left was breakfast and workshop on Sunday. Breakfast was kind of lame. No bagel basket--that's never a good breakfast day, since the cheap bread seems too insubstantial to hold a tiny jam jar worth of fructose and corn syrup. But it was nice to spend a last little bit of time with my friends and professors.

We decided to have our last fiction workshop outside. Sunday was beautiful, as honestly, most of the days were this time. A definite improvement over last December's shiver-fest in the icy wind of downtown Palm Springs.

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And that was that.

I checked all the drawers in my room one last time. Good thing, too... I almost left a drawer full of underwear. Cringe. I packed the car, checked my audiobook to make sure it loaded, and I was on the road by about noon.

For nine hours.

Driving too and from residency is both a pain and an exercise in self reflection. It helps me to leave the known world and travel into the surreal, cruise ship-like experience of intensive interaction with other writers. I'm completely ready by the time I get there. It also helps me to absorb and reflect a bit on the way home before I have to see people in my real life. I started listening to Gone Girl (and I'm in, by the way, though I have some strong feelings about the annoying wife character), but I found I couldn't listen for too long at once because I already had too much in my head.

The major differences between residencies one and two for me were social. The first one was so overwhelming and I was afraid to talk to anyone. Everyone. The second time was much easier; I knew who my people were going in, but I also realized there wasn't anyone there who just plain wouldn't talk to me, nor would I not talk to anyone. The second residency was much more relaxed and I let go of all the pressure I was putting on myself to fit in.

The major difference this third time was in what I was ready to learn. For my first few residencies I was completely intimidated by the idea of trying to get published, and of not knowing anything about trying to get published. I knew I should be talking to the visiting editors and agents and authors, but I had no idea what to say to them. With my third time, I'm much more aware of what my strengths are and I have a better idea of how to play to them. God, just knowing what to talk to these people about is cool. I actually had specific questions, help I wanted from them. I also think this time I was more aware of my own growth; when I look back at how much my writing has improved over the last year, it's very fulfilling. I've been so lucky to work with professors and classmates that push me to do better work while making me feel good about what I can do. I know I still have a lot to do, but this residency I was able to look back a little bit.

At the completion of this residency, I feel much more driven to take some new and very specific steps, and I feel like it's the right time to start putting my work out there.

I'm so glad I found this program.

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