Saturday, January 15, 2011

Residency Day 9

I woke up this morning knowing that today is my last day of this residency, and although it's full of classes, meals and activities, still, I know it's the last for six months, and there's a bittersweetness to that. I've come to realize that no two residencies will ever really come close to each other. Every semester, a group of us graduates and leaves, and every semester a new group of faces comes in. It's an ever-changing sea and tonight I will say goodbye to some new friends I will likely never see again.

But yesterday was the preparation day for the leaving, in many ways. Besides the usual classes (a great one on scene building and another on what you should cut from your writing), there were meetings with our faculty advisors to sign off the study plan for the next months and determine due dates during the correspondence semester. There were graduate readings, in which we had the opportunity to hear some of the work graduates are using in their thesis.

This was an amazing opportunity, although it came late enough in the night that many didn't stay and many of us who did were a tad droopy eyed. The fact is, it would have been easy to pick their writing out as that of the graduates; it was tight and lean and lyrical and focused. Every aspect of it was above the level of writing we saw in workshop, and for that I'm encouraged and inspired. Writers get drastically better over their two years here, and there's a sense of excitement and hope in that.

As I sit in classes, I can see my first chapter in front of me, dying to cut, clip, trim, add. I finally know exactly what is wrong with it, and what I want to do with it. The funny thing is, before I came, I didn't know anything was wrong with it. And now, as classes go on, I'm scribbling in the margins of my notes lines to put in, directions to go, characters to build. It had gone from theoretically practical to literally practical.

Of all the learning that goes on in classes and workshops, though, it's impossible to take out how great the people are, and how incredibly motivating and fire-under-your-butt-lighting it is to sit for hours and talk to them. Last night a group of us - eight in all - went to a diner called Pig N Pancake. I later found out it's a chain, but for us it was a "must-do" here in Seaside if only for the fun and uniqueness of the place. We sat for two hours over pancakes and omelets and halibut and salads, eating and talking and making plans for the next six months. They are not just fellow students; they are friends.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds awesome, Heidi. I think about your book, "Some Kind of Normal," and the writing is just SO great--and I think about how you feel you've learned so much during this residency. I can't wait to hear what more you'll have to share as you continue on in this MFA experience.