AKA Boot Camp for Writers.
It’s wonderful and terrible to be back here every January and July.
How can so many introverts survive so many days talking, talking, talking about books we’ve read and writing blocks we’ve overcome and writing terms we never heard before we arrived on campus but perhaps stumbled our way into experimenting with before we knew a term existed? How can we survive the awkward back-in-the-dodge-ball-game feelings that get stirred up by living that closely with fellow writers–sharing dorm rooms and dining spaces and lecture halls? How can we be brave enough to read at a podium? Listen to our readers–there in the flesh–comment on what rose up off the page when they read our workshop piece?
But we do.
We create community and traditions and inside jokes and…books. Poems. Short stories. Nonfiction pieces.
Nell Freudenberger–once the envy of the NY literary world–said in a recent interview with Poets and Writers magazine, “You have this time when you’re trying to become a writer and nobody reads what you write except maybe your mom or your boyfriend. Nobody needs it by a certain date and there’s no pressure to redo it and redo it and redo it.” When she got her lucky break…”That was the moment when I discovered that writing is rewriting. [Before that,] I could have parroted that to you, or to students, but without really understanding that that’s how the work gets done.”
So we do the work. We do our personal work on our insecurities that might hold us back from ever showing up on this campus and we do our creative work…and for very many of us it changes everything.