Saturday, January 8, 2011
Residency Day 2
This is where I'm studying. I know, it hardly seems fair!
Day 2 really felt like day one... the first classes, the first time venturing out of the hotel, the first author readings and orientation meetings. It felt like one long adrenelin rush, and I kept saying to myself, "I can't believe I'm so lucky to be here! This is such an incredible program! I should have done this years ago."
But, of course, years ago I wasn't ready, and it wouldn't have been the same. So here I am, still amazed that I get to be in this fantastic group of people who function more like one huge student body rather than separate cohorts of classes. All of us - first semester through last - take the same classes, sit in the same workshops, eat meals together.
There is a lot of laughing. It is a group with a fantastic sense of humor, and one which has clearly shared jokes from residencies past that keep cropping up. Us new people are being folded in, joining the past, creating a future.
The schedule is simpler and less daunting than it seemed when I got it in the mail. Every morning starts out with "Craft Talks" which are like lectures led by the faculty. My impression of these authors only continues to get better. I could sit and listen to them all day. They are inspiring, motivating, talented and insightful.
After the first class is workshopping our fellow students' writing. That won't begin until day 3, since day 2 had orientation in it's place. That's good, because I've met most of my fellow workshop students now (and eaten with them, chatted with them, photographed that sunset above with them...). After this in lunch together. The meals are huge... I'm sure I'll gain 10 pounds just being here and eating three time a day.
After lunch is more classes ("Craft Talks" and Roundtable discussions) and then there's a slot of time where the graduating students get to present their critical thesis and read from their final project. It's very exciting. Students don't have to attend these, but I love seeing where I hope to be in two years.
Then it's dinner, author readings (which are WAY more fun than it sounds!!), and then student readings wrap up the day at 9. I didn't stay up for them this time, but I plan to do that from here on out. Jet lag is still a bit clingy, and I wanted to get a start on some of the work due next week.
So that's the day.
I'll leave with you with a few thoughts I liked from the craft talk this afternoon about memory and how it influences fiction writing.
"Writing is a means of discovering what it is we have to say."
"If we remembered other things, we'd be someone else. We are our memories, our perceptions."
"What we remember and what we forget do the same thing for us: define for us what is important and what is not."
"All writing is part memory and part imagination. To know only one of these is to know the world only by half."
A story might begin in memory (autobiography, fact, experience) but then become imagination (pure invention, heart, musings), but it should eventually circle back around so that it joins the two. They feed each other.
We as writers give away all our secrets. If we can't do it straight out, we disguise it with a little imagination.