The People in My Neighborhood: MFAland

I love sport. I love doing it, training for it. I love introducing friends to it.

I love race day. I love the pre-race energy; I love the random camaraderie that springs up on the course. (People ask how you’re doing; people help each other with transition areas; people give each other race food or water when a hard bonk happens.)

I love most of all watching people I know and care about cross the finish line.

I love writing. I love the process. I am learning about the craft. I love the hours when I am in the moment and banging out something I care about.

I love encouraging people to find their voices. I love watching a writer use his voice effectively, when he finally finds it. I love seeing people I know and care about publish the work they’ve worked over and over until this phrase, or that, linchpins the whole thing together.

This past February a Whidbey MFA graduate posted that there was a triathlon the day before residency, and would some of us like to do it with her? Several of us signed up. Hell, we thought, we don’t have a football team, why not do a triathlon together?

So we did it.

I didn’t come to MFAland to make friends. I came because something was or is inherently broken in my writing, and because I needed motivation. I know all too well that when your critique partners become your friends, or when you ask friends to be your critique group, you might run into problems.

But as I watched people I know and now love cross the finish line, and as we celebrated a classmate’s first-ever publication last semester, and as I goggled at the numbers of fellow MFA students and staff who were not racing but who came to cheer and feed us beer and cheese after, and as we mourned the death of a classmate’s brother and another classmate’s close friend, something clicked: You cannot embark on things you love, and invite people in, and not make friends.


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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

4 Responses to The People in My Neighborhood: MFAland
  1. JD Messinger says:

    Sounds to me like you love living and life, which is of course, what it is all about! Go Go Go!

  2. Stefon Mears says:

    I wish I’d made it in time to be part of the cheering crowd. You guys were terrific out there.

  3. Paula Kiger says:

    I know you may be fighting some writing demon (according to your statement re: broken writing), but it was not present at all in this piece. Nicely done!

  4. Yi Shun Lai says:

    You guys! thanks so much for all the nice comments! @JD, good friends make living life easier and better. @Stefon, you were one of my first friends at Whidbey. And Paula, for someone I’ve only ever met on the Interwebs, well…you’re a favorite. Thanks for reading!

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