A Decision is Made
I decide that if I really want to go to Ireland for two weeks, I can do that anytime.
Or as Tia (henceforth going by her real name, Vic) put it: You can buy a plane ticket to Ireland a lot easier than you can have an opportunity to get Rick Bass as your faculty mentor.
FamousWriter from Pacific emails me with his phone number. We talk for an hour. He laughs and swears and thinks it’s cool that I pee in a bucket. He read my blog. He liked my essay about women’s rugby. He knows me by name. He shares that a colleague of his had been teaching at University of Southern Maine (the affordable one with chances to go to Ireland) and switched to Pacific, saying “There is no comparison between the two with regard to the caliber of their academics.”
In other words, it’s worth the extra ten grand.
I rule out University of Southern Maine.
Onward to Goucher in Baltimore, which has one of the most well known creative nonfiction programs in the country. They take their students into New York City regularly to meet with editors and agents. They set you up with an internship in the publishing world.
I ask FamousAuthor from Pacific what he thinks about that. He replies honestly, without persuasion or manipulation in his tone. He tells me how the faculty at Pacific are in touch with the publishing world, citing examples. He says that Pacific intentionally recruits writers, not teachers. Meaning, they hire faculty who live their lives in a manner that I eventually want to live: writing, teaching part time mostly in low-res programs to connect with people and have a small steady income, and selling books.
I tell him I am reading Kesey and that it blows my mind that he can make a character walk into a room and in once glance give five pages of description including flashbacks and vivid detail. I tell him I think Kesey had a window in every sentence and in most cases, opened every single window. FamousWriter and I talk in analogy like this for several minutes. I tell him my memoir writing is nice and touches the emotions, but that I want it to be phenomenal. I tell him I need help opening more windows and he understands what I am saying.
After we hang up things seem to settle in my mind a bit. But still…
I consider that meeting New York editors would be a once in a lifetime chance. I consider that Vermont College offered me $3,000 and they liked my essay on Joan Didion, my personal hero. I consider that very few writers say they want to jump start their careers by going into debt thirty thousand dollars.
Then I consider that I’ve never let that kind of thinking drive my decisions in life. I consider that I never would have gone to Whitman for philosophy if that was how I operated. I consider that because my medium is the written word, I need to be with people who speak the same “cultural language” as me – meaning I need Pacific Northwesterners, not New Englanders. I need mountain people, not city people. I need writers who write, not teachers who write.
I take a deep breath, the tension in my neck releasing from all the build up.
I emailPacific University:
“I accept, I accept, I accept.”