Monthly Archives: August 2009

Goals

I’ve officially been home for one whole day and two wonderfully restful nights.  I woke up in the middle of the night last night and had no idea where I was, which is a good thing because it means that I was sleeping very deeply.  I really, really, REALLY needed that.  I feel human again.  And my TMJ has calmed way down, thank the gods.

But now that I’m home I have that familiar overwhelmed feeling.  There are so many things that I want to do, and soon there will be so many things that I have to do.  I will have to deal with the kitchen remodel, get ready for the start of the school year at work-school, and get ready for the start of the school year at school-school.  I have to admit I’m kind of scared of the prospect of two grad classes combined with the beginning of the work-school year.  And they are not even fun grad classes, though I’m sure I’ll get all into one dispute or another, over a school of thought in my psych class, or over a critical theory in my education class, which will cause me to be all consumed in whatever I’m doing.  Being opinionated is sometimes very motivational.

But there are things that I want to do–not thing that I have to do, thank goodness, because that means I might actually do them.  After spending my summer in writer-land, here are my new goals that I hope to start working on very soon:

1.  Finish my damn teacher memoir.  I’ve been working on it for far too long, and it is about time I get through it, if only to be able to put it to the side and continue on with my writing in other areas.

2.  Try to find a way to get said memoir published.  I have the names of several people who can help with this quest, courtesy of Bread Loaf, but as of now I’m not ready to contact those people, which puts further emphasis on the importance of #1, above.

3.  Revisit my desire to write a YA novel.  I know it is not literary in the ‘la-de-da I’m so very literary’ sense, but it is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and I really think I can incorporate some ‘la-de-da’ literary aspects into something for young adults, which will either result in something beautiful and profound, or awful and unreadable.  We shall see.

4.  Take up short story writing again, for two reasons.  Reason one–I’d like to be able to try to submit short pieces for publication in obscure journals, as well as attempt to enter some contests just to see what happens.  Reason two–I would like to be actively writing short stories myself before I start on my short story writing unit with my students.  I’m pretty sure that in the process of doing it myself for the first time in…years…I will come up with some new ideas for my classroom.  

5.  Research MFA programs and start applying.  Perhaps.  Maybe I should reword that–decide for absolute certain that I want to pursue an MFA, and then, if I really, truly do, research and start applying.  Unfortunately, even though I’ve been home for less than 48 hours, I’ve already started the research part.  My husband thinks I am insane, and rightfully so.

6.  Start and finish reading all of the books I bought in the last three months that are either straight-up instructional books on writing, or novels that I feel–or have been told–are literary-rich and therefore good examples of what I’m trying to do.  The piles are all over my house, which is very daunting.  

7.  Continue to blog.  Which reminds me…

This blog was meant to be a travel blog, but I’m no longer travelling.  So it needs a new purpose.  As it was experimental, I shall continue to experiment with it in a different way.  After this post–which is kind of a cheating post, as I’m typing this on my desktop–I will again be blogging solely from my iPhone.  I will be using it for the purpose of writing down things that strike me as odd, interesting, annoying–things that I encounter out in the world that are in any way note worthy, to be used as a jumping off point for writing longer nonfiction, or even fiction, pieces, which I will post on my other blog, This is Not Fiction.

This sounds complicated, and it is, but it is how my overly organized, OCD brain works.  Wish me luck with that.

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On Going Home

I feel like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz. This is a poor example, literarily shallow, over-used and therefore cliched.  But even so–or perhaps because of this–it is how I feel.  For a while now, I’ve missed home, even though I’ve only been here for a little over a week.  But today, more than missing home, I feel I am done being here.  I have gained so much, learned more than I’d anticipated about more than I’d anticipated–I am glad I came.  And I am glad I am going home.

There are two more days full of mainly readings and social events, but my brain is full.  Try taking a picture with a full memory card; it simply won’t let you.  That is how my head is functioning right now.  I realized at last night’s evening reading that I wasn’t even paying attention.  And that’s when I decided, despite the Gala Reception and Barn Dance I’ll miss–events of the sort that, though I see their place, are not why I came here–I have gleaned all that shall be gleaned from this experience, and I’m ready to go home.  And start planning my next one.  Whatever that will be.  I’m open for suggestions.

At yesterday’s lecture, ‘The Romance of Elsewhere and the Bonds of Home’, Lynn Freed spoke about travelling.  In travel, she said, some search for themselves, some for anonymity–but most people find both.  Because it is only in the contrast between the two that the other can exist.  I don’t know if I found neither or both, but I am quite sure that when I wake up and Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are there, I will be just as changed as cliched Dorothy, and her little dog, too.

What Not to Do

In the last eight days, I have been to six lectures, four craft classes, three workshops, and thirteen readings.  I have walked to my house and back–which is .32 miles or about 600 steps each way–twelve times.  I have eaten 19 meals, sent 37 emails, posted ten blogs–this will be number eleven–and cried once.  Not a bad, I think.

There is a woman here who looks exactly like my chiropractor, if my chiropractor were to dye her hair black and start dressing like a hipster.  I think by now she knows I’ve been staring at her, and I should probably tell her why sometime soon.

There is a a slowness to time here that I cannot describe in words, no matter how many writing classes I attend.  Anyone able to capture it, in poetry or prose, should be rewarded a permanent fellowship.  The pace of the day speeds and slows, speeds and slows, like the voices of the writers in the little theatre as they read their stories and verse.  This is a bad example, really, because it contains a simile, and similes are the figurative language of the masses.  Rewording famous quotes is also frowned upon. So, I believe, is listing.  Particularly numerical lists.

Using sentence fragments, however, is acceptable.  Encouraged, even.

Past, Present, and Future

These are the days that I will look back upon longingly.  This is the place I’ve wanted to be since before I could drink, before I had a mortgage and a husband, two dogs and a white picket fence.  In the weeks, months, and years to come, I will remember.  The day I had lunch on the lawn of Frost’s cabin.  The day I sat behind Julia Alvarez.  The day I thought, for the first time in my life, that perhaps, perhaps I would like to write poetry.  I will remember the fog in the meadow beyond the stone wall and through the open gate, the yellow houses against the green mountains, and the dim theatre that has absorbed the words of literary legends for almost a century, while people sat on uncomfortable chairs to listen.  I will sigh, wishing I had the courage to read my own words in that theatre.  I only regret the things I do not do.  But I did this.  And I will remember all of this, and smile.  But today–today is hot and sweaty.  Today I wish I had my own bathroom, and could take a leisurely shower, maybe even shave my legs.  Today I miss that husband and dogs and fence.  And it is always, always today.

Whew!

I just survived a (brief) one-on-one meeting with a literary advisor! Thank the gods, the hard part is over! I don’t think I could even have explained why I was so nervous, aside from my continued feeling of not knowing what the he’ll I’m doing. This feeling, by the way, has and continues to persist throughout the duration of this conference. And the meeting confirmed this feeling for me–fortunately or unfortunately I do not know. It is not a feeling, it is a fact.

But I came away from the short conference with a lot. I feel confident that with enough dedication and effort, it is possible that I may some day actually publish this memoir I’ve been working on. I have a better idea of how to go about this, knowledge that will not only help me better sell the book, but that first will help me finish and perfect it. I have a few contacts I can try. And, absolutely the most important thing, I learned more of what I didn’t know I didn’t know. Maybe that is the theme for this experience. It is much better than my original theme– the infamous ‘I suck’ Bread Loaf lesson.

Please Excuse Me

A side note…

Please do excuse any spelling or punctuation errors. I assure you it is due to fat fingers typing on an iPhone keypad, and not ignorance of the conventions of the English language. Additionally, after I hit publish, I can’t go back and fix anything without an actual computer which, as anyone who knows me can imagine, drives me and my OCD crazy.

Using Up My Battery

I have been avoiding writing on my phone– as was the plan when I started this blog– because it runs down the battery. I typically leave my room a bit before seven in the morning and return around eleven at night. I am staying in a little white house only a five minute walk from the Bread Loaf Inn– the center of the conference– but rarely have time during the day to make the trip back. That’s a long time for a battery to last– and a long time for my internal battery, too.

I got actual sleep last night– I even dreamed, though they were disturbing dreams. I recall being tol off by one of my favorite students in one dream, and another in which Missie scolded me for not doing a good job babysitting for her, right before she nearly ran her daughter over with her car (though it was– and I remember thinking this in the dream– a pretty cool car. A red new beetle convertible.)

I have a new approach that will hopefully help my mental state while here; something close to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now (which I’ve never actually read but have flipped through in the bookstore quite extensively). I walked to the inn this morning, looking at the birch trees and wondering why morning dew makes my feet itch (and why that fact is not mentioned in the song) and repeated to myself ‘I am here now’, and tried really hard to appreciate that simple fact.

I am not unhappy here. I’m definitely learning a lot, starting to get more rest, and only being bitten by one out of every ten mosquitoe– not 12 out of every ten as was the case in North Carolina. But I am lonely, a little overwhelmed, and quite discontented. Thus the new zen outlook. We shall see how it goes.