I have an incredible backlog of posts to write, but I’m at SeaTac now, and my brain is still buzzing buzzing with ideas and MFA stuff. I’m waiting for my usual lovely 11:36 PM flight to Dulles and then home to HPN, and I’m thankful for the extra time to just sit in a place with no emotions and personality whatsoever, so I can jot down some of the great people we met and the things we learned from them. We even got to have dinner together, Chels, Stefon, and I, before Stefon dropped me off at the airport in plenty of time to find a check in, get a brainless book at the bookstore, window shop a bit. Now I have about an hour to mellow out and process.
I love this flight for this reason. Red eyes are not my favorite, but this one gives me solid time to be alone for awhile, listen to some music (Coleman Hawkins at the moment), and try to make sense of it all.
It was by far the best residency ever. Not only do I feel settled in as a student, now (it’s my last full semester, if I can get my thesis pulled off), we had an incredible list of writers, editors, and agents come trooping through our doors to offer us lots of good nuggets of useful information that I can put to use in my work soon.
Among these were, in order of appearance:
Alan Rinzler. Alan is the editor of such writers as Joseph Hellerman, Norman Mailor, Toni Morrison, Claude Brown…eurgh. The list goes on. He is a gentle soul of infinite proportions and equal wisdom. I have a lot to learn from him, and I’m looking forward to continued correspondence, even if via such far-away venues as his ‘blog, on which he posts great editorial tips and tricks–and, occassionally weighs in on things like social marketing for writers. Lovely.
My colleague Charlotte Morganti spent an hour with Alan distilling some of what he taught us. Her interview is up at her blog.
Deb Lund. Deb is appearing early in this list even if she was one of our very last presenters. This is because Deb cared enough to show up early in the week and get to know us. It’s true, she does live on Whidbey Island, and so it was “easy” for her, but she was kind and lovely and she became a part of our campus very easily.
Deb is the author of some fun fun fun fun! picture books, but she is also the originator of some really effective writing tricks for writers, including those of us not working on picture books. The last day of residency is always a critical day because we have had nine days of lectures and we are up to the gills with information and learning. Still, she managed to keep us all excited and writing, and creating even when we thought it’d be impossible. Fantastic.
Lauri McLean. Laurie is an agent at Larsen-Pomada, San Francisco’s oldest literary agency. (I think.) More important, she truly understands writers. Even more important, she is of the same mind as me when we think of marketing. In fact, I asked Laurie within minutes of meeting her to sit in on the class I held at Whidbey this residency. What a treat. We have some upcoming things going on together, so I am assured I’ll get to see her again–this makes me very, very happy. It’s so nice to meet someone of like mind! I’ll never get tired of it.
Melissa Manlove. Melissa is a children’s book editor. I’ve yet to meet one I don’t like. But this one…this one…well. let’s put it this way: Randomly, Stefon and I broke out into the theme song from the Muppets over lunch. Melissa pitched right in. And she knew all the words. This was right after Stefon, Chels, Melissa and I finished drafting the storyboard for our soon-to-be-award-winning children’s picture book, Are You My Hostage? It is a charming coming-of-age story about a bumbling bank robber who must find his way in the complicated world of larceny. Along the way, he discovers his hostage’s favorite food; that he really mustn’t bring his laundry to a robbery, and other truths.
Hunh! Oh, and the editing thing: Melissa is a really, really good editor. She understands stories. She had good ways to get to the heart of them. She makes me want to get to know my characters better.
Cheston Knapp. It is so rare that one gets to invite the managing editor of a fine literary magazine over for Scotch. Rarer still that he stays until 1AM, talking about everything from floppy hair to glossy crackers that only look inedible. There is talk about books and work and general happiness and suddenly the entire bottle of Scotch is gone, and it is time for bed. Lovely, especially in the company of other smart writers, who also happen to be friends.
And that doesn’t even include my regular faculty, or any of the other fantastic writers studying with me.
Often when I return I am incapable of much of anything. Tomorrow I will return home to an empty apartment, and I will be lonely, at least until Jim comes home at 5 or so, but I will snap on the TV and watch some classic films and talk myself off the ledge of wanting to dedicate my entire life to being a crazed solitary writer, if only because a girl must eat and a girl likes to be social.
But sitting here, alone but not alone, it is easy to think that I can take what I learned from this past residency and eat from it and only it until I pop, and I’d probably have some fine, fine work when I was done, and that that would be enough to sustain me for a very, very long time.
*Yawn.* I’m going to read something new now.