I forget where I found this. It was a few years ago now, but I remember that it came right before my first residency at Lesley University.
It was true then, and it’s still true now.
June 29th, which is only three short days away, will mark one whole year since I graduated from Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.
To say I miss it would be a gross understatement.
Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the greater Boston area were my home away from home from June 2012 until June 2014. That tiny campus on the back side of monstrous Harvard University was where I learned to be myself, believe in myself, and believe in my work. It was where I finally understood that I was a writer.
In a world increasing overtaken by technology, you may be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t listen to podcasts these days. I like to describe podcasts as talk radio, but in an episodic format. Topics vary, of course, and if you’ve avoided podcasts by using the excuse that there’s nothing that’ll interest you, you’re likely wrong.
I’m definitely not one of those lucky folks who gets to take vacations. I mean the long vacations to some beautiful place where work can be left behind and relaxation is the only thing on the to-do list. Every once in a while (read: maybe once a year), I go to Chicago. That’s the extent of my vacations, mostly because I don’t have the funds to go anywhere further away. To compensate, I take mental vacations. They’re usually pretty short, but the idea of it is that I can go wherever I want to, even if it’s only for an hour (or sometimes less).
I’ve been taking these little “vacations” quite often lately. I always go to Boston, but lately, I’ve been visiting Cambridge. It’s been six months since I’ve graduated from the MFA program at Lesley University, and I don’t know that I’ve missed anything more than I miss that program.
Can you believe it’s been AN ENTIRE YEAR since I’ve posted here? Goodness. So much has happened.
I moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to take a new job. Six months later, I was laid off after my department was eliminated, and I moved back to Wisconsin. I bought a new (used) car and started a new job.
Perhaps the most important part of the last year was my graduation from Lesley University’s MFA program, which happened at the end of June. That was difficult for many reasons, the biggest being that I miss all of my writing friends terribly. And it feels odd to not having set writing deadlines.
But I suppose that’s something that we’ll all deal with and learn to work through.
Along with graduation comes a small amount of extra time. I’ve been using some of that extra time to get back here. I’ve given my site a little makeover, which I hope you’ll enjoy. At the moment, my pages are set to private so I can give them a facelift as well. I have some big(ger) plans and can’t wait to start implementing them.
So, here we are. I’m still writing, still reading, and still learning. I’m still here. So stay tuned, friends. I’ll write again soon.
“The main thing is to write for the joy of it.” — Seamus Heaney.
Farewell, good sir.
Thank you for everything you’ve given us over the years.
We’ve all run into times when we’re just not willing to let something go. I had my experience with this recently during residency at Lesley University. This is the place where I’m always pushed out of my comfort zone. Always. It happened at the first two residencies, and I should’ve known it would happen at the third.
Because I’m a writer and I love what I do, it’s always been especially hard for me to stop working on something, to set it aside and start something new. Especially something as large as a novel. It’s a big investment, and as many people know, I’ve been working on a specific one for quite a while now. It was dismantled over the spring semester, but I was ready to get back into it–to bring it back to life and push it forward. That’s what I do. When times get hard, I push on. We all do. It’s part of writing.
I’m two days removed from the end of my third residency in Lesley University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. I’m back in Wisconsin and sadly away from my writing friends and all things literary in Cambridge and Boston. And now that the classrooms are dark and empty, the seminars are over with, the workshops have ended, and the general atmosphere has returned to something resembling normality again, there’s still one question that burns at the back of my mind:
What do I do now?
I already know the answer to this question. The answer is a simple one: Write. This has always been the answer. It always will be.
So, why is this questions still at the back of my mind? It’s a funny thing, really. In the few days following my return from Cambridge, Boston, and Lesley, I go through these feelings of being lost, of wondering not only where I belong, but also if I have what it takes to get through the upcoming semester. A few more days go by, and I’ve settled back into a routine of reading, writing, and a general malaise of missing my school friends and the literary atmosphere that surrounds Cambridge. But the good thing about getting to this is that I’ve begun to write again.
And that’s exactly where I need to be. At that point where I can write again.
I’m looking forward to it. This semester is bringing new work. I’m starting a new novel and setting the old one aside for a while. I’m still a bit upset about this, but I’ve come to understand that it needs to be done and that it’s part of the process. I’m excited about this new work. I’m excited to work with Jackie Davies this semester. And I’m looking forward to where this semester will take me both as a writer and as a person.
So, while I might be feeling rather friendless in an area of backwoods, small-town Wisconsin where all things literary do not exist, I know that I have writing to do. And that is enough to keep me going for now. Because without writing, what else is there?