Pass the Poe... er, the Morrison
By Doug Brewer, Bluegrass Writers Studio
I chose the Bluegrass Writers Studio in no small part because of its low-residency, rather than residency, format. Like most writers, I suspect, I am most comfortable when sitting in my office alone with my computer or a pad and pen. Nobody cares if I haven’t had a shower in a couple days, and there’s very little of that whole eye contact thing.
On the other hand, what really makes the program tick for me is the annual Winter Residency in Lexington, Kentucky. It’s a magical thing, taking thirty or forty socially awkward people who would rather be flying solo with their words, and throwing them all together in a Hilton without anyone exploding.
Here’s the thing: we all like to talk shop, and a big reason we don’t get to is that we’re typically surrounded by people who just don’t get it. Go ahead, try to bring up symbolism in Beloved at family dinner. At the residency, you can do it without anyone asking if you’d pass the potatoes already.
Being around people who will gladly embrace your writing weirdness, because they know what it’s like out there, is joyous. They know the uncertainty, the rejection, the failure. They also know the thrill of a good sentence.
The workshops are great for in-depth discussion. I enjoy the craft talks for examining different aspects of my work for places I can shore up. Readings by accomplished authors give me a goal. But for my money, it’s the social acceptance among peers at the residency that seriously inflates my sails. I eat too much, and too expensively, and they are both worth it; friendships get ignited or stoked, common worries and triumphs commiserated and celebrated.
I come home exhausted and recharged, riding a wave of energy I didn’t know I had in me. Hell, I’m even a little less terrified of my upcoming thesis. Not a lot, mind you, but some, and that’s a direct result of being around people who accept my eccentric need to communicate remotely and still invite me to lunch.
Published on January 15, 2014