Lesley Residency 1.3

I’m beginning to think I might actually be halfway-decent at this whole writing thing. Today at the residency was a very positive day. There was a good seminar and good workshops and I feel as if I am beginning to make good friends. Though I experienced moments of self-inflicted embarrassment after a comment in today in the workshop and after I realized that I had printed every story for our workshop except my own, the day was otherwise filled with a happy and cheery Chris.

We began the day with a seminar led by my faculty mentor Michael Lowenthal, called “I Hear Voices,” which was all about the use of point of view and narration in the first pages of a text and how the text itself can teach us many important things about the characters before we know anything entirely factual. I honestly don’t remember what the silly thing I said in class was but I do recall that I felt kind of dumb for the rest of the session and that feeling of dumbness was magnified when I realized we were supposed to discuss my story later in the workshop but I hadn’t bothered to print it out.

Workshop was the highlight of my day. It was split into two parts, each led by a different faculty advisor. Whenever your faculty advisor is teaching, one of the people he or she advises will have their story covered. That’s the deal. Indira Ganesan taught the first half and we covered a story by a girl named Erica and it went well.

It also went short and we ended up partaking in a couple of writing exercises.

When Michael came in to instruct at the halfway point I wasn’t sure if we were going to jump right into my manuscript or not. I had managed to get a copy of my story during lunch so I was all set, but I was a little nervous. We broke the ice with Michael with another writing activity. Then, after I took a potty break, we got right into my story.

And it was great. It was fucking fabulous. I had some pretty good workshops at Bradford but nothing ever came even remotely close to this. The comments were all insightful and I felt like we really took a hard look at the text and, without doing any of the soul-crushing that was sometimes common in Bradford-era discussions, we analyzed what worked and what didn’t. What was really cool for me was that a lot more seemed to work than not. The main issue was that it was a puzzle with its pieces arranged in the wrong way. Everyone seemed to be digging the individual pieces. Their problems were with the way it was structured.

The thing is that they helped me figure out what I might do. They helped without telling me. They helped me just by giving a fuck. There were times in workshop at Bradford where I felt like most of the writers didn’t give a shit about anybody’s stuff but there own. I’d say that’s why I’m only in touch with a few of the writers I met back then: Heather, Erik, Brenda, and of course David.

After the workshop I was raring to go. I did dinner and then a group of us, consisting of Shera, Jill, Sara, and myself, walked down to Harvard Square. Sara played tour guide for Shera and Jill who had gotten my moronic viewpoint on this city that was new to them and Sara did very well. We walked along the Charles and talked shop and September 11 (which is what one of Jill’s stories is about) when I had a sudden memory upon seeing the Hancock Tower and the Pru. We had a deep philosophical discussion on the failure of the Britney Spears film, Crossroads, and then we headed back to campus.

The readings tonight really capped it all off. Thomas Sayers Ellis was brilliant in what you could only call a performance of poetry. His choice of poems was very set-list like. He knew what poems to use to draw you in and what poems to use to keep you there. He just performed the fuck out of his poems and I was blown away. Indira Ganesan followed with beautiful storytelling.

That these are the people teaching us was just amazing. As I walked to the Harvard Square T-Stop tonight with fellow fiction student Scott, I realized how lucky we all are to be a part of this program.

On the way home I listened to Dido softly on my car stereo and took in what they had to say about my story.