Friday, January 14, 2011

Residency Days 7 & 8

This is the "Promenade" that runs along the beach between the sand and the hotels. I haven't seen the sun, though, in a few days. The big beach bonfire, scheduled for tonight, had to be cancelled due to high winds and rain.

I've gotten behind in blogging. The last days have been incredibly busy, but I've loved that. Every day is packed with classes with titles like "The Theater of the Sentence," "Revision: A Personal Look at Re-envisioning the Work," "The World According to Everybody: Text, Subtext, Agenda, and POV," "Structure is Everything: Some Thoughts on Literary Engineering," and "Everything I ever Needed to Know I Learned for Alice Munro." Heady stuff, eh?

As much as I love the classes and am stuffing my head with tools to use when I get home, the workshops have been one of my favorite parts. I mentioned yesterday that I'd had my own piece workshopped. The piece I submitted was a section of the novel I finished in November. Initially, I'd thought I'd start something new with this first semester, but after the workshop I saw such possibilities, not just for the section I'd submitted but for the book as a whole. Little changes that could make a big difference. Larger changes that would take the book from good to spectacular.

I started thinking: I know I can write a book. I've written three. I can make add the words up sentence after sentence until I have 320 pages full. I can create satisfactory plots and characters. What I really want to do is know how to do all of that well. Not just well, but amazingly.

On my application I wrote that I wanted an MFA to help me take my writing to the next level. I could write something new... or I can take what I've written already to the next level. Learn what to do with what I've got. How to revise that baby into critically-acclaimed-quality writing.

So yesterday the advisor-student pairings were announced and I'm THRILLED with the faculty advisor I have! We had lunch today and talked about the idea of replacing my original plan of beginning a new novel and revising Prodigal and he thought it was a fantastic idea.

So now I have a plan. Specific things I want to work on in the book, and great tools to approach it with. My reading list, which he really liked, will stay the same with one minor substitution I made and one writing book he suggested. With a plan in place for my semester, I can finally feel this residency coming to an end.

Our workshops are over now, but the last two days are still cram packed with classes and meetings. I can't believe how far I've come in such a short time.


  1. So glad you got the advisor you wanted and you now have a great plan for prodigal.

    And Seaside looks amazing, we may have to go there this summer.

  2. I think I would request class be held on the promenade, LOL. I guess no one would be able to concentrate.

    I am loving these posts from the residency! Glad to hear you have a plan and your adivsor was so helpful.

    Sending prayers your foot heals quickly(I can't believe you left the cast behind, you couldn't have packed some books in and used it as a carry-0n?)