Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Back from Residency
I meant to write while I was in Oregon, but the hours got away from me, and the times I had to write I realized I couldn't put into words what I wanted to say.
I feel that way now. That there really aren't the words to explain what happened there.
I'm half-way through this program, but not nearly where I want to be. My writing lacks focus, lacks beautiful words and startling language. Lacks great ideas and simple significance. I make all the mistakes I know not to, and then can't even see that I've made them. I've read 48 books, but it never seems like enough.
The craft talks send my mind spinning. I can see all the possible ways to implement ideas into my writing, but then can't seem to actually do it, or at least not do it well.
I feel like I need to work harder. Work longer. Produce more work. Make that work better.
It's good, sometimes, to have that fire lit underneath you. To be surrounded with people better than you. One of my workshop leaders, Laura Hendrie, told us to to immerse ourselves in excellence. "Read good works so you know what good writing is. If you read things better than you are, you set the bar higher than where you are."
So that's where I am heading into my essay semester, the prelude to my thesis semester. I am, for the moment, putting my novel as my side project and concurrently working on new material. I am working with Pete Fromm this semester, and beyond thrilled about that. Before beginning this program, his novels were the first I read, and I fell in love with both the stories and the writing. I had the pleasure at residency to read more of his work, and it's the kind of writing you just want to sit inside and absorb. He has the reputation of being a tough advisor – not brutal, but honest and demanding – and I really want that at this point. I anticipate the next months being difficult, but in that growing, stretching, learning kind of way I'm craving.
In all the years I've been at this blog, I've never taken an official blog break, but over the past year my posts have definitely thinned. I wish I could be here more often, be at your blogs, emailing all of you dear friends and encouraging you. But for the next months, I will probably be tucking in, head down, trying to find my way to that place I want to be. I'll be thinking of you, and hoping you find your way there yourselves.