As I sit here at the gate at MSP airport, I recall my plan to blog daily. Bwa ha ha ha. They don’t call it “Intensive” for nothing. No time for blogging! With homework and late nights and rare moments to call home (when family was often already asleep due to our late nights and the time difference), I did not blog as planned. I am sorry. Especially to you, Jody, who specifically requested it. However, I am going to send you my reflections on each lecture that I had to turn in. They are short and sweet, but if you find anything interesting, I have many more notes.
I bought a 3 subject composition book for the Intensive, and yesterday I filled the last page and had to go onto the cover. So it was definitely time to go home. So, yes, I took at least 120 pages of notes!!! Lots of cheeky young grad students take notes right on their computer, but I still have to do it by hand. I feel like I process it so much better that way. So when I get home, I will have to file it all under the correct speaker, workshop, etc., so I can refer to them all semester and likely, future semesters, as well.
This semester is my critical thesis semester. In the MFAC program, students technically have two theses. One is critical and one is creative. My creative thesis will be my LAST semester, and that will comprise the publishable body of work I have completed while in the program. Of course, we continue to work on our creative while working on the critical, but the critical demands a lot of time and energy. It has two parts, a paper, of course, and a presentation. I look forward to it because I am interested in my topic, but I REALLY look forward to finishing it, so I can go full speed ahead on my creative. I am working with the brilliant and kind Claire Rudolf Murphy (yes, go read her books), so I will forge ahead with more nonfiction manuscripts.
This intensive was the most INTENSE I’ve experienced. We had frequent homework which definitely increased the learning curve, but it also made for late nights and constant scrambling for printer access (not to mention issues with internet being down sometimes). I also came in with NO critical thesis idea, and no idea what kind of creative I would work on this semester. Both huge decisions I had to make during the course of this intensive. Finally, our lunches were much shorter than last summer (when we had a full hour or more, so I took a quick nap during lunch daily, which made SUCH a difference in my focus in afternoon sessions—this year, I relied more heavily on coffee and M&Ms).
The BOYS OF SUMMER, Gary, Gene, and Ron, don’t come to the winter residencies, so it’s always such a treat to see them at the summer ones. I am such a fan of all three of these guys, their work, and their amazing teaching abilities. I worked with Jane Resh Thomas my first semester, and she had been a little under the weather health-wise. She looked FABULOUS this residency, she seemed healthy and in great spirits. Her keynote was a highlight, as always, but I was so grateful to see her so upbeat and involved. I was also happy to see JACKIE BRIGGS MARTIN, my brilliant mentor from last semester (go read all her books, too), and give her a big hug for sticking with me.
I was a ‘buddy’ for two incoming students. This program is SO amazing and life-changing, it is fun to see the new students change over the course of the week. They are (rightfully) frightened and overwhelmed the first few days, but they quickly become enmeshed in the fabric of the program. I think we all feel like we’ve found our ‘tribe’ when we come here, and we unapologetically talk nonstop about books and writing and other things that (it seems like) no one else in the world wants to talk to us about. We study and learn and discuss and debate at such a fever pitch that my brain is as exhausted as my body, but in a wonderful way. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. Our entire faculty, not just the ones I’ve mentioned, hangs WITH us for the week. Though their knowledge and experience is vast, they model the skills and enthusiasm of lifelong learners. Still, they are kind, compassionate, patient and interested in our work, our process, and our struggles. I think we ALL just want to be like THEM.
Our theme for this residency was POV. The breadth and depth of this topic astounded me daily and boggled my brain! I need to go home and continue my study, and it flows well into my critical thesis topic. I also want to go back to all my old manuscripts and evaluate my use of POV and the countless other things we discussed this session.
I missed my family like crazy, especially since it’s summer and the children are out of school, but they seem to have survived quite well without me. My husband is a ROCK STAR to keep that train going in my absence.
Time to board. More later!