My “writing spirit” is sad this week. I know that sounds gaggy and way more woo-woo than anyone wants, but it’s true. I am cranky and full of grump.

When I started working last month, it happened to be right before both the holidays and my grad program’s residency. The program holds classes on Whidbey Island the first ten days of the semester, and the rest of the semester online. Because I was gone for two weeks for the holidays, I felt I had to make the “adult decision” to skip residency to bring in as much income as possible, since this job is only temporary. Making the “adult decision” didn’t make me feel any more adult or any more happy.

I’ve realized, this past week, as my grad schoolmates have been at residency and I have not, how much I’ve come to rely on residency. How much the support of other people who write feels essential to my own writing. And how much I want to give that back, too.

My first residency, I felt completely intimidated by grad school and genres and workshops and the constant, “Have you read this?” and “Do you like Writer Such-and-Such?” I hadn’t read anything and I knew nothing. I had the biggest, brightest case of imposter syndrome.

Somehow, by second residency, it all clicked. I hadn’t read Writer Such-and-Such, maybe, but at least I knew someone I had read and loved. Or several someones. Or, at least I felt confident enough in my own writer-person skin to say, “No, I have no idea who that is. Tell me why you love them”, and eagerly anticipate the answer. Everything was there in those ten days: writing and reading, peace, belonging, liveliness, friendship and support.
I missed that this time around and I am very sad about that. I felt cranky all this past week, wanting my residency fix and the feeling of being taken seriously by other people who need to write as much as I do. I’ve felt annoyed and bitter, wanting to be in a thousand places other than on a bus every day at 6 AM.

My writer-friend Kate sent me an email yesterday with the subject line, “You better come next residency.” And with the closing, “Know you’re loved.” I haven’t felt the magnitude and sincerity of words like that in quite a while. Somehow, with hers, I felt them and I knew.

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3 thoughts on “Residency

  1. I pondered this a bit and came up with this silver-lining thought: Having missed this residency, you now know more than ever how much it meant and means to you, and you will, in the future, make whatever efforts are necessary to overcome such obstacles. Like being there for your next residency even if it means a leave without pay, going to readings by colleagues, meeting up with an old friend on the weekend, etc. Your memory of having missed this residency may become quite useful for many future situations. In any case, I wish you a great semester ahead even if it started out like this. It can happen in other ways. Still, I feel your loss. I just want to inject some hope into the word picture you put together here, at least for myself.

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