Letter from Camp

I’m coming to the end of my month at the Vermont Studio Center.  It’s been a month of revelation, frustration, breakthrough, and stagnancy.  I’ve gotten both more and less done than I had imagined I would, and I’m figuring out how to be OK with that.  I’ve finished less writing, but I’ve done lots more thinking and research that will lead to writing when I’m ready for it.  I’ve made starts on poems that need to cook for awhile.  I’ve written a few things that I like. I’ve met an incredible group of writers and visual artists who inspire me, challenge me, and just generally make me feel like the world is a lot better than it sometimes seems.  I’ve revisited a part of my family and my family history that I haven’t seen for a long time.  All of that is good.

The revelations have been many, and I can’t explain them all.  Some are things I feel without words.  A few that I can articulate are:

  • A month is a really long time to sustain focused creative work.
  • Putting pressure on yourself to write things that aren’t ready to be written is counterproductive.
  • The above are really good rationalizations, but they are rationalizations. Getting the work done means getting the work done.
  • I’m possibly past the point of communal, dorm-style living, but there are parts of it I love. I don’t need to experience those things again for a really long time.
  • Writing is hard.
  • The breakthrough is always just on the other side of the frustration (collaborative credit to Tiffany Besonen on that thought).
  • I’m glad I was with these good thinkers and good hearts during the brutal news cycle July has been.
  • I miss my regular good thinkers and good hearts.
  •  I write better in shorter spurts, and when totally alone and silent (a challenge here).
  •  I’ve been intensely focused on reading, writing, and poetry throughout the last 2 1/2 years in a way I never have before, due to my MFA program and this residency, and it might be OK to give myself a break after I graduate in a couple of weeks.
  • I can’t let the end of this residency and the end of my MFA program let me get lazy about writing (after the aforementioned break).
  • The past two years have been really, really hard on a personal level, and I’m not sure I’ve fully acknowledged that.  Lots of losses. Lots of pain.
  • The past two years have been full of joy, too.
  • I really like driving my car, and miss it a lot.

OK, so that is a lot of revelations.  But it’s still only a fraction.

Friday, I leave here, and Sunday I head to Tahoe, for the last residency of my MFA.  I defend my thesis (oh yeah–I submitted my thesis, BTW), do a reading, and graduate, in addition to the usual residency stuff.  Then I don’t go to school there there anymore.  Which is hard to take. There will be tears.  Lots of tears, I think.  Happy ones, and emotional ones, and sad ones.  Waterproof mascara has been purchased.

So I graduate, I go home, I do tons of laundry, and then what?






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