Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Sunset, Sarah Lawrence, Slonim House
I can see the finishing line of my first year in grad school, pursuing an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence. This year has given me so much of myself back, from every corner of my soul and heart. And where had it gone? Motherhood? Maybe. The best. But now that Jamie is getting older I did the timing and realized I wanted to go back to school. To bone up my writing and credentials and get more serious about Teaching For-eva. I can say with certainty that my time in has already made me a stronger teacher.

I knew I'd be writing a lot, but hadn't quite considered how many classics and contemporary novels I'd also be reading, both for class, and spun out of class from my own curiosity:
Ethan Frome; Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; Beloved; The Power and the Glory; Saint Joan; Remains of the Day; The Wreck of the Deutchland; a smattering of essays I'd never encountered, most memorably by Christian Wiley (The Limit) and Annie Dillard (The Death of the Moth); All the Light We Cannot See; Brian Morton's Florence Gordon and Breakable You; Jo Ann Beard's Boys of My Youth and In Zanesville; poems, documentaries.

I'm also in the process of naturally shedding jobs that don't appeal to me anymore. Doing marketing writing for products-- nixay. Fact checking gigs that come and go. Nixay. Writing publishing pieces for a trade that has moved into a far more business-y direction, nixay (Oh, the heartbreak of losing a fave editor!). Instead, I'm working extremely hard to put my faith into my own work. I've hit 70 pages on a memoir and have written three long essays that I'm quite proud of if only for the hours and hours and hours I put into them revising and weighing every word. This is to say nothing of the pages and pages of responses to others' work I've written for workshops; what a privilege it is to participate in their process, in both nascent and more advanced stages.

My teachers have been small in number and large in influence. Stephen O'Connor led my first workshop, and reminded me that attention to detail, structure, and above all else the truth, are paramount to successful pieces.  Suzanne Hoover is a master at everything she touches, IMHO, and her lectures have inspired me for days, my hands achey after each class for the 12 pages of notes I seem to always take about subjects like Comedy and Tragedy; Character, Point of View, Timelines. She's taught me to be a more critical and understanding and compassionate reader. Jo Ann Beard is a personal essayist hero and to study with her is one of the great privileges of my life.

Finally, I've made new friends of all ages and was even invited to a girl's weekend in Vermont to write and read and shop and drink wine and eat too much and sit by a fire place and sleep in the "princess" room.

So... that's what I've been up to. Figured it was time to check in.

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