Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tight Schedules and Tighter Shoes: MFA Winter Residency Part One

I realized this morning that I have been missing from blogland for nearly a month, and what a month it has been. I went to Maryland for a week to visit family and just missed their record-breaking Christmas blizzard. I celebrated Christmas with Steve in a very quiet, laid-back way, and that was followed by a less than stellar new year as we lost our precious cat, Hobson to cancer and congestive heart failure. So while champagne was already off the menu for the New Year celebrations this year, it wasn't exactly with sparkling grape juice and noisemakers that we welcomed in 2010.

On a happier note, January 2nd meant the return to school as the Winter Residency began. Since Saturday (Jan 2), I haven't stopped. My life has been a whirlwind of lectures, readings, workshops, and traipsing across campus in the coldest weather Spartanburg has seen in a decade. A fine time to have ridiculously cold weather - when I'm too big to button my coat! The good news is that the program director has worked in a nice little break into the middle of all this craziness, so today I can (quite literally) put my feet up for a few hours, do some writing assignments, and just enjoy my home furnace and humidifier. I even have a nice, warm cat (Abby Tabby) cuddled beside me to keep me warm. Of course, I'll be back at school tonight for a showing of the film adaptation of Dan Wakefield's New York in the Fifties, but I'll be refreshed and ready to go by then. Besides, I'm really looking forward to the film, and Steve has promised to go with me.

Being pregnant during the residency has certainly made it more challenging, but I don't mean to imply that it's been 5 days of torture. The lectures have been great, and the faculty and fellow students are amazing. There have been plenty of highlights (or hi-lites, as I saw on a beauty shop sign near my house yesterday) to celebrate.

  • RT Smith, editor of Shenandoah (and my mentor this semester!) gave a reading of his new fiction on Saturday night, including a Southern re-telling of Rumplestiltskin.

  • Sarah Kennedy's lecture on the prosy poem. I will now think of her at every poetry reading I attend, wondering if the next poem will "outstrip" me or simply take me along for the ride. Here's hoping for the former rather than the latter.

  • Leslie Pietrzyk's (my fantastic former mentor) lecture on finding the story in your novel or short story. I love the practical way in which Leslie approaches writing. She always has such amazing tips and tricks to suggest, and it's so comforting to know that a writer of her caliber has to work hard and use tips and tricks, too.

  • Having a 3 hour gab session with my favorite fellow student at Jason's Deli. I think we solved the problems of the world and completely dissembled each other's workshop pieces. Good times!

  • Peter Meinke's reading of his poem about the undercover poetry reader.

  • Tim McKee's (editor of Sun Magazine) lecture on "Surfacing Pearls" where he actually gave us lists of what he looks for as an editor and what not to do in your stories. Way to be the first editor/speaker we've had that was willing to be that specific!

  • C. Michael Curtis' reading of some of the crazy cover letters he's received as editor of the Atlantic Monthly.

  • Looking at really, really old issues of Concept while taking a workshop break in the Coker Room.

Today, I enjoyed a bit of a lie-in and a little blogging time, and this afternoon I have lots of writing to do after my weekly doctor's appointment. Here's hoping I'm able to write my re-imagining of "Hills Like White Elephants" and my point-of-view switch exercises before heading to the movie. Tomorrow it's back to the insanity, and Friday I get workshopped. I better start psyching myself up now.


  1. I'm looking into applying for the Converse College Creative Writing MFA and thought I'd take this opportunity to blog-stalk someone who's currently going through it. Hope you don't mind!

  2. Great! Hope to see you there next term!