Day 4: Interlochen Writer’s Retreat

Since the moment I cut down Imnaha Highway, then pointed my car east, life has moved at lightning speed. My website still says I’m a Writer-in-Residence. My blog says my current location is Oregon. My email signature says “new work” in Calyx, linking to a story that’s been published six months now. Small details, no doubt, but for this type-A Capricorn trying to make a living from the writing life, it’s the small stuff that matters in the end.
If I could summarize Day 4 of Interlochen’s Writer’s Retreat in one word, it would have to be: conversation. Fleda Brown’s craft lecture on collaboration sparked a provocative discussion. In a nutshell, she argued, collaboration is always a “pushing against,” a sort of willful outdoing of something we’re passionate about or intrigued by. The faculty/participant cook out fueled six hours of feasting, drinking, discussing, and an on-the-spot live opera performance (and at a place like Interlochen, you can bet the singing was the real deal. I think my ears are still orgasming.)
That’s to say nothing of the nonstop conversation in my head: When will you fix your website? When will you hear about fellowship X, Y, Z? When will you hear about residency P, Q, R? What was the name of that press, again? Did you remember to make the dinner reservations for tomorrow? Have you exercised yet today? How’s your heart—scratch that, no time—how’s your brain, because you need it to maintain this 60 mph speed for another 72 hours, minimum?
All that’s the difference, of course, between being at a residency and being at a conference, being a Writer-in-Residence and being Guest Faculty (thanks, ICCA for the helpful title…my resume needs it!). In this writer’s life, summer is the time for earning income through teaching. I’m lucky I get to do it part time and in the presence of such truly gifted and innovative artists in all fields. Consider visual artist Philip Hartigan (who focuses on “the art of the personal narrative”), for example, whose multi-discipline talent, sense of humor, and pet toy Sharkita (don’t ask) never fail to intrigue.
One more day of the retreat, then this blog will shift into an even higher gear for Summer Arts summer. Look for notes on teens; notes on teaching; notes on twiddling thumbs (aka waiting for rejection/acceptance letters); notes on life in the north country; surely a photo or two of my toes in Lake Michigan’s most excellent, silky, sands; and notes about what this writer’s life is like now that I’ve moved from the top of the bottom (last year) to the bottom of the middle (this year).

PS If you don’t “follow” or “subscribe” to The Writing Life blog yet, please consider doing so. I’ll be making some very exciting changes in the coming months! Your support is appreciated! And yes, that includes any new readers who found there way here from yesterday’s link on Elvis Costello’s webpage, which picked up last night’s post.

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