These are my first words on the screen since I returned from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio on Saturday. The Kenyon Review is one of the oldest literary magazine in the United States and every June, they host a workshop for writers. 2014 was my fifth season — meaning that, yes, my week at Kenyon can feel like months where characters disguised as attendees, learn, grow and, more interestingly, change.
Don’t let the sleepy trees, dancing fireflies, old buildings fool you. Glance at, but don’t rest on the literary history because there simply isn’t enough time during that week — there’s too much homework. The bucolic setting that soothes the eyes is a necessary contrast to the frenetic pace of writing something fresh and new every day then sharing these fledglings with the sensibilities of writers who read — not to make you feel good or bad about your work — they read for the craft of writing, they advocate for what the piece seems to want to be. It’s not personal, it’s far more important than that.
But it’s not just drudgery. Over the last five seasons, I’ve begun friendships and this was the year they really started to bloom. This one week brings a handful of us scattered across the country back together. And, finally, this year, I know that when Time finally takes us and separates us, it will hurt. In a world that scrolls and rarely pauses, that’s always looking for the next thing, that’s disposable, recyclable — writing is especially lonely, but these friendships remind me I’m not alone.
This week, I felt my own resistance in so many ways — change isn’t free. Ugh, that prompt, I’ve written about that tons of times, I don’t want to write about that again – I’m so bored of that. And, he didn’t get what I was saying. (Turns out, he understood way more than I did.) And, my only response to that prompt leads me straight down cliche lane. I am so tired. I am on fumes. No, no, no. Shut up, open your notebook, pick up your pencil. Write, listen, write more, write through.