Monday, June 17, 2013

Unpacking the MFA Residency

It seems the harder I try to get ready for the VCFA July residency the more behind I get. Which makes sense--what could possibly get me ready for that 10-day wormhole experience that swallows us all up and spits us out at the end, exhausted and exhilarated and just about ex-breathing? Because residency has a way of validating your presence in the writing world while simultaneously pointing out at every turn how very little you know about this art around which you claim to have built your life. How very little you might know about anything, in fact. You spend six months looking forward to it and by mid-point you know that you are utterly crazy and all you want to do is go home and sleep for the next half-century.

In fact, it occurs to me that residency does the very things that writing itself can be relied upon to do. It puts your ego on the line daily. It's one endlessly looping emotional rollercoaster ride. And that is fine. Because at the end of it when I get on that plane, heading back to the rest of my life, I take memories with me. Of lectures that hold me riveted, faculty colleagues who fill my heart and mind, talk about books and writing, words and how they operate, workshop conversations and graduation moments that remind me why I love this program and the work we do together.

So instead of trying to get ready for any of that, I'm trying something else this year. I'm shedding loads. I'm packing light. I signed up for yoga ahead of time. I put together a playlist of soothing music. I'm taking along a bag of ginger chews and extra vitamins.

Clearing my desk. Making time to walk. Knitting. Reading for fun at least 10 minutes a day.

Bring on the time-warp. I'll never be ready, but maybe readiness is an overrated concept.


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