Interlochen College: Memoir Day 1

Camp officially ended today and I’ve switched hats from Summer Arts Faculty to College of Creative Arts Faculty. It means exchanging one set of keys for another, switching meal plans, and moving from Faculty Lane into a Scholarship Lodge. Sure, I could stay in my summer housing because the friend I live with is really laid back (and lives there year round), but hauling boxes aside, part of me welcomes the shift in location. In twenty-four hours I have to turn off my adolescent-age teaching techniques and turn on my continuing education/graduate teaching techniques. No more making jokes about Britney Spears in class, or proofing tribute poems to a mom who cooks dumplings and fried rice. The most thorough way for me to secure such a shift is to get a change of scenery. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet my new digs (show at right)–one, lovely half of an Interlochen cabin just a hop, skip, and a jump from the lapping shores of Green Lake.

It’s all one room but simple is fine with me. There’s something about the nature of a writing retreat, which the week-long memoir course I’m teaching is dubbed, that pairs well with simplicity.

A place to sleep:

A corner to read in:

A desk to write at:
And a dining room with a view:
What more could one ask for?

An Internet connection, perhaps, but this cabin doesn’t have one and that might be just fine as well. I can walk a quarter mile any number of directions and get one, so what’s the rush? Why worry? I’m hoping the participants in this week’s class will embrace a similar attitude of retreat. It doesn’t necessarily mean being a Luddite, but a shift in priorities and a slowing down of life’s daily tasks in order to open to other creative possibilities seems crucial to me–however that manifests for each individual. For me, I’m hoping it will include time each morning and evening to walk in the woods, dip into the lake, read a book, or meditate…and of course prepare my next lecture or prompt. I’ll be “on” many more hours a day this week than I have been all summer, but I take great inspiration from teaching adults.

I may or may not use any spare time this week to begin drafting Part Two of the novel. I suspect I’ll know if the time is right. More than anything, I may need to use this time to ground myself and check back in after a very full, stimulating 7 weeks. My three years on the road is nearly over. Am I ready for the next steps of “settling down”? What challenges will I face that I haven’t had to deal with since taking my life on the road? What will I miss the most? Will I be able to replace the sense of freedom and adventure I’ve had at my heels the past 36 months with something just as thrilling? Time will tell. For now, I’m going to use this cabin and this lake to try and stay very, very focused on the present moment.

[Note to local readers: Please feel free to attend my public reading this Wednesday, August 8th at 7:30pm in the Mallory-Towsley Center for Arts Leadership building. Free and open to the public.]

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