It starts tomorrow. The final residency of the MFA degree, and I feel….well, a dozen different ways. I won't bore you with all of them, except to say it's a most exquisite and painful mix of accomplishment and trepidation, confidence and insecurity. Perhaps, as the residency progresses, I will be more able to put it into words (hey, isn't that what this whole creative nonfiction thing is all about anyway?).
Meanwhile, here are a few things I am looking forward to during the eight days at Stonecoast:
- Being "in the mix" once again, surrounded by fellow student writers of varying genres, backgrounds, goals, and ways of looking at the creative world – the conversations and camaraderie are priceless.
- Soaking up -- well, everything, but especially the unique blend of advice, technical know-how, experiences, anecdotes, wisdom and encouragement of the interestingly varied faculty.
- Without the need to attend every evening reading, to fill out evaluations
verifying attendance at a set number of seminars, and the awful anxiety of the "mentor lottery," I'm hoping that the stress level may be notched down a little.
- It's the last residency. I have LOVED nearly every minute of my MFA low-residency experience. LOVED it. Along the way, I've mused how great it would be to have another year or two in the program, and yet the timing now seems exactly right. Time to reenter my life, albeit from a richer vantage point, but it is time. My kids, husband, friends – and my checkbook – want me back.
And here's what I'm dreading:
- It's the last residency. Sure, we have our own little writing communities at home, but there's something entirely distinctive – matchless really – about coming together with roughly the same group of artistic individuals every few months and more or less checking in on one another. To slake somewhat my itch to get away every once in a while and take an immersion bath in writing, I know I will attend conferences and the like, and maybe even an alumni event. It will be wonderful; and absolutely not the same.
- I've signed up for both a master class workshop for graduating students (led by a faculty member who is primarily a poet – talk about intimidating) and to be an assistant for a second workshop (with a new and interesting faculty member) for non-graduating CNF students. Doesn't sound much like a stress-free schedule, huh?
- Graduating students are required to give a one-hour presentation on a topic of their choosing, and to give a 20-minute reading of creative work. I've selected a topic that's comfortable to me: Submit (and Publish?) vs. Craft Development – It doesn't have to be one or the other. And I've never been worried about reading to others. So why am I a rattling nervous ninny?
So, here goes. Maybe on the 7+ hour drive – with two books on CD and a stopover with relatives along the way to distract me. -- I'll stare down my nerves and come up with a plan to both savor the week and say goodbye without too much melancholy. What are the odds, do you suppose?