Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This isn't original but I'm pretty sure there's more blog-writers than blog-readers. So does this mean that for most of us, the act of blogging is simply self-absorption, writ large? Probably. On the other hand, the best way to learn to write is to write. . So, if you think of the writing of your blog as the practicing of your craft, you're good to go.

I went to my first writer's residency earlier this summer. A residency, or this one at any rater, is not like a workshop. In a workshop, you take classes and commune with others of your ilk. In a residency, you're all alone doing you work. I'd always wanted to go to a residency. I had a big book to "finish." I needed some time away from the housedogkidskitchenjobgardendusttelevisionNPRhusbanderrands. I needed to concentrate. I applied, was accepted, packed up my rental car (we've only got one car in our attempts to be green and cheap) and headed up to the top of a mountain.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. For dinner, I hiked for twenty minutes up to the tippy-top of the mountain where there sits a beautiful retreat--a lovely place where groups of people: State Park people from South Carolina! African drummers from Georgia! go and have meetings and take classes and hang out. I ate at the staff table. I am very friendly but also pretty shy. The small talk was difficult for me. After dinner, I packed up some of the leftovers--biscuits, salmon--and headed back down the mountain pretty fast. I was apparently more afraid of making small talk than I was of hiking down a deeply forested mountain holding a plate of salmon. (Here, Bears. Come on and get it.)

As I say, I wrote and wrote and wrote. It was exactly like you'd think it would be. What I liked the best was what I discovered about myself. Apparently, I'm a pragmatist. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about me me me. I didn't philosophize much. I thought neither about art nor about life. What I did was work. I wrote in the big bed, which I didn't bother to make during the day, because mostly I was sitting in it and writing. I ate when it was necessary and I walked around a little because it was, after all, in the gorgeous mountains. I read minimally, except what I needed to read for my work which turned out to be a book about eclipses and another book about Jewish mothers. Like many of the others who'd used that cabin--you could read all about it in the journals in the cabin; entries by each of the cabin dwellers--I haven't yet quit my day job. So for us hobbyists, this residency was like a cross between a big fat birthday present with a bow, on one hand, and on the other, rescue, pure and simple.

Anyhow, up there I put the last period on the first draft. It was an excellent experience, despite the quantity of cave crickets in the bathroom.