Lesley Residency 1.8

Today was undoubtedly the lowest day of the residency for me. I was actually reduced to tears at one point late in the afternoon. I am very tired, as are all of my fellow students. The trouble with me is that with tiredness comes feelings of insecurity and inferiority. Hell, I started the day by writing a poem that began with the line, “Am I the guy you simply tolerate? The kind of guy I love to hate.”

I did get cheerier when more people came to breakfast and I did find Robert Pinsky’s presentation of the Favorite Poem Project this morning to be moving and interesting. Lunch was good as well. A bunch of us sat with Robert to eat and, while I didn’t actually say anything to the man, it was nice to hear him talk in an informal setting.

After lunch we had our final workshop of the residency. First, with Christina instructing, we covered two stories by Scott, who was the only person left to have not had anything covered. I think that went well. After that, with Michael instructing, we covered stories by Shera and Jill and that’s when, for me at least, things got hairy.

As with my Bradford friends I have quickly set up a relationship with these new friends that allows a good amount of mutual, playful jabs at one another. Today I left myself open for a joke and it just broke me. Something I said was taken absolutely the wrong way in the context of the joke and while I think it was an absolutely fucking hilarious joke when I look back on it now, I was just too empty and defenseless to deal with it then.

I didn’t speak for the rest of the workshop and when it ended I went down to the bathroom in the basement of the building and after taking a piss, I cried my eyes out.

Outside, shortly afterward, I conversed with Bryan from the Writing for Children group. I didn’t think I could explain how I was feeling to my fellow fiction-writers yet. I told him I was wondering about how much money I could get back if I quit tonight. I wondered if I was brought in simply to fill a quota. There aren’t a lot of men in the program yet, after all.

Slowly, the other fiction writers came over and sort of gave me the impression that I was being silly. They gave me the impression that I might actually be a decent writer. When I told them I thought maybe I wasn’t cut out for the program they said, “But you’re a writer. You couldn’t not write. Where would you go?” And, I retorted, “Maybe I’m just too involved in what people think about me. That’s why I shouldn’t be here.”

Anyway, they convinced me not to go home and I went to dinner with the whole entering class and several members of the faculty at a Chinese food joint just down the street. After that, Shera, Sara, Jill, myself, and several others ended up at Charlie’s in Harvard Square for drinks.

And now, all is well.