Just handed in my last workshop story. And Marianne sent this around to everyone to celebrate the end of workshop for all of us second-years. Just one more week of classes and two more papers to go!
I so don’t want to do my short story today; I just want to skip it and go straight to Shakespeare. I’m leading a discussion on Richard III and doing a paper comparing his sibling issues to Henry V’s, and I really want to start the discussion by pointing out that trying to understand Richard III by reading Henry VII’s chroniclers is a little like trying to understand Obama by watching Fox News. Of course, I’ve always had a soft spot for British bad boys; one of my favorite quotes is Anthony Blunt’s lawyer saying that Blunt couldn’t sue a newspaper for making outrageous claims because a libel suit would require he still had a good name left to tarnish.
Roughly 10 days left of the semester, and I have a ridiculous amount that needs to get done. I just pounded out a complete story rewrite in a day, I have another day to write a totally new story, and then I have a 15-page paper and a presentation due next week, and another gut-and-rewrite immediately after that. And that’s not counting regular homework, internships, or work. There are moments when I have no freaking clue how I’m going to get it all done.
At the same time, there are moments when I just accept that it’s going to be okay and I just focus on the summer. I’m dying to get new writing done, to work on a piece without considering length or audience, just take it where it wants to go. For the first time in four years, I’m not going to be writing for a workshop, I’m just going to be writing for me. I really love my classmates, and I think they’ve given me fantastic advice, but I just want to shut the door for a bit, to work without the pressure of performing for them, trying to impress them the way they impress me. I know there’ll come a time when I want to show them stories of mine, get their thoughts, but that’ll be me picking who I want to show things to after I’ve written the stories, not shaping and censoring the stories for a specific audience.
After all the effort it took to get ready for AWP, designing merchandise, promoting the program, seeing if people needed rides, etc, AWP itself was an absolute blast. I went to a bunch of fascinating panels and readings on everything from literary SFF to new ways to think about plot to how to critique students who are working with religious material in workshop. One of the poetry readings had me absolutely dying on the floor with laughter. And the book fair was pretty awesome as well: I got more than 20 pounds of free literary journals, subscribed to three more, and bought myself nifty tee shirts and a mug with a slot in the handle for a cunning little spoon. And in between panels, I decompressed with Trai, Stephanie, Susie, Leon and Mark. Even though we’re always together on campus, it’s been such a stressful semester that it’s the first time I’ve gotten to talk to some of my friends in ages.
I was staying with friends of Stephanie’s in a lovely little house in the suburbs, so we’d take the light rail into downtown Denver in the mornings and go back late at night to crash. Downtown Denver has some amazing restaurants; I had the best thai eggplant I’ve ever had in my life, deep fried burritos, lovely salads and dessert at the cheesecake factory. Wow. I gained five pounds, but it was totally worth it.
The alumni party was also fantastic. I got to see a bunch of people that graduated last year and I also got to let my hair down and relax, which is pretty rare for a worrywart like me. Several people just blinked at me and said, “You’re in a skirt? And you’re drinking? Were you abducted by aliens?”
And I actually led a panel, because the presenters for the last panel on the last day never showed up. So after ten minutes, I just went up to the front of the room and said, “Look, we’re all here because we care passionately about this subject. I don’t see why we can’t have a conversation about it just because the presenters didn’t show.” So I moderated discussion for an hour and we all had a blast. It felt like a really good harbinger for next year: if I can get up in front of strangers and respond to their needs with no prep whatsoever, I’m going to be a really great teacher when I actually get to prepare beforehand.
And now I’m back and pounding through homework at lightspeed, trying to make up for all the work I’ve missed, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
I realize I’ve completely disappeared lately; I haven’t had the brainpower left to explain what-all’s going crazy with work, school and Passover. And the conference and subsequent catch-up is going to mean it’s probably going to be a week or two before I do a proper post.
But this is all by way of saying I’m going to be offline Thursday-Sunday for the AWP conference in Denver, so I’m sorry if I miss any major developments with you guys. Panels galore, readings, parties, the book fair, and my first trip to the Tattered Cover. I’m stoked.