I logged onto my blog today to do my MFA Summer Residency entry and discovered that I haven't posted since April. While I knew I'd been laying low in blogland while I finished up my second semester work, I had no idea I'd been so negligent. I really must try to do better...especially since I met several people over the past month or two who actually read my blog....people I'd never met. At this residency, I got to have the completely unnerving experience of meeting someone and having them say, "Oh, I know you. I've read your blog." Talk about inequity. This total stranger knows all kinds of stuff about you, and you know absolutely nothing about them. I got over the weirdness, though, and it was pretty cool to know somebody reads this.
Back to the residency. For all those interested (and even if you're not), I am officially halfway through my Master's. Of course, the biggest chunk of work remains, but if I can get through a semester that included a newborn baby, I can survive anything. This term, in addition to my creative work, I will be completing a 25-page critical paper which will serve as the basis for the craft lecture I'll present at the fifth and final residency. After a lot of thinking and some consulting with my faculty mentor (more about him later), I have narrowed the subject matter of my paper (a bit) to an exploration of time and non-linear narratives in the work of fiction writer Lorrie Moore. I'm really excited about my topic since it's something I've been exploring in my smaller critical papers over the last two semesters.
With each semester, I am assigned a new faculty mentor. The first semester it was the amazing Leslie Pietrzyk, and last semester, I had RT Smith (also amazing.) This term I will be working with Robert Olmstead. In addition to meeting with him regarding our semester plans, he also ran the workshop for our half of the fiction group. Allow me to describe the Bob Olmstead fiction workshop experience...no wait, I can't. The man is, for lack of a better word, intense. His insights and advice were spot on, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more deep discussion of the ethics, morals, and philosphies of the characters, stories, etc. Between the laser precision of his story dissection and the hours-long novella (out loud!) readings we did, we all (Bob included) were wiped out every day at the end of our sessions. I feel like I learned so much that I need a little rest before I can really understand how much I learned. And yes, I realize that sentence doesn't make much sense...except maybe to the three other people from my workshop.
Residency isn't all work, however. We had readings every night, both faculty and student. Of particular note were Leslie's next installment of her novel in progress (hurry up and finish it so we can READ IT!), Dan Wakefield's touching reading of a chapter from his book-in-progress, and fellow student Kate's AMAZING reading the last night of residency. The great and powerful LUCY ADDISON also made her Converse College MFA program debut on the final night. Alas, she didn't give a reading.
The best part of residency is getting to see all my writing friends. As a writer, you are often isolated from others of similar interests, and so when we get together we all talk like mad to get all the literary fellowship stored up until next time. The process of workshop is intensely personal, and a special bond forms between fellow students as we dissect each other's creations, trying to be helpful while treading lightly on each other's feelings.
Now, it's the hard part - buckling down and doing the work....and maybe remembering to do a blog entry or two.