Coffee and work, lunch and reading, class. Day two I snagged some people to have dinner with– long, easy, witty, long-lost relations banter we had over wine and martinis and food that never got to go nowhere but a few miles, field to table. How sad for it. We toasted our future fame and talked about how we all fantasize about our book jacket photos. It was just so comfortable. I’ve never felt like I was part of a group of serious writers without feeling threatened and awkward and self-conscious. So just that was probably worth the grand I’m throwing at this.
Day three I went dreamier and wandered about. Didn’t try too hard to pick anyone up, and didn’t. Explored: junk shop, bookstore, river. They have lots of fireflies here. I think I’ve caught fireflies before, somewhere, sometimes. Don’t remember. Tonight I spent a good long four minutes up close and personal with one. He was standing aloft a blade of grass like it was no big thing. They also have ducks in the river, which pleases me a great deal. Ducks are just precious to me.
We tried to show our teacher we were not dumb on day 2. I tried to show I was brilliant, funny, and easy to get along with. Check. Today we “workshopped” (awful verb) the first piece. We all watched carefully to see if our teacher would be kind. He was. I told Exhibit A why, personally, I connected to the material– her story resembles my father’s, and in certain ways, my own. It’s kind of a girl thing to do, but seriously, why did you write something? Not to have people tell you how to fix it. People seem to want our teacher to “teach” us. He seems to do only as much teaching as he needs to, maybe a wee bit more. Mostly people should teach themselves. He never makes us read our exercises, which is odd. At Writing Project we HAD to read, right away, and it hurt bad, real bad, until I didn’t care anymore. Like how guitarists get left-hand callouses. Like how boxers toughen up. It was ultimately good and incredibly quieting to the ego. I wrote it. Whatever. I wrote it.
We jockey to see who gets to talk the most. There are six of us. Three of us barrel on (me included) while three are quieter. I couldn’t be sure I’d be a loud one. Usually it takes me a long time to get comfortable with new people, but I’ve worked with so many people on so much writing now, I think I know what’s helpful and how to do it.
Mostly here I am finding that I was right: getting an MFA, or studying your art in college, is expensive, and for me, would be a waste of time. You would meet people. You would get to drink with them, bond. But I learned to write from reading, studying paintings, movies, my life, traveling, teaching, crying, screaming, my friends. I haven’t heard anything here that was news to me. It’s just about having company. Here it is very normal to be sitting and writing, or marking up manuscripts. It’s so normal, it’s kind of scary. When I was younger, this much fitting in would really threaten my ego. Experience managing the ego is critical here. I’m glad I have a pretty solid leash on the sucker. Down, boy. Back. Smile.