“Get out, Schultzy,” Cam says. “Get outside and go on a walk or I’ll kick your butt. What better place to practice being balanced than here, where it’s the hardest?” And he’s right. He’s completely right. So I skip the morning’s craft talk and head for the promenade when I catch my first glimpse of slightly sunlit skies. I walk for an hour and feel all the better for it and when I come back he says: “See. Told ya. Anytime you need me to go big brother on you, I will,” which effectively sums up everything.
I’m aware that I make this residency sound like torture, but it’s exquisite torture, if such an experience is possible. And the damage done is the damage we do to ourselves. For me, that means I get tunnel vision when my brain feels too full and I forget to go outside for two days. Additionally, being in a place where we talk about how everything means something in so far as every word on the page has a purpose, I tend to let that maxim bleed over into the non-literary aspects of life at the residency. The following reminder is befitting: “Sometimes a banana is just a banana.”
Here is some good news. My request to turn in a thesis that includes both nonfiction and fiction has been approved. This is a special case and comes to me only because of blessings from the director and all three of my former advisors. The main reason for this is because lyrical essays are, by nature, shorter – even though they may take just as much effort as something that is twice as long. But my thesis still needs to be 70-120 pages to graduate with my degree in nonfiction. However, it is my fiction that propelled me forward into the nonfiction I have found and will use for the bulk of my thesis work. If the thesis is to be representative of my best work as a writer to date, then it ought to demonstrate that in the most honest way possible—in this case that means showing how fiction led me to my strength in nonfiction. I feel fortunate to be a part of a program that accepts my path and will acknowledge it as valuable, rather than dragging it out through some tedious, departmental debate. While debate is appropriate, the debate occurred and in the end, it was trust and faith from the advisors who know me best that brought about the approval.
Today’s pic: Gray skies on the Oregon Coast.