Sunday, September 08, 2013

Bread Loaf 2013

So I went to Bread Loaf, and we all survived. From the moment I applied way back in March, the idea of actually going seemed far-fetched, even ludicrous; and it seemed that way even when I got accepted. But then it started seeming crazier not to jump at the chance, and in the end I did.

It was the right decision. My ten days in Vermont reactivated parts of my brain that have been dormant for four years, possibly more. Instead of starting each day with spilled Cheerios and diaper-change chases, I had breakfast and then went to a lecture—one day Charles Baxter talking about request moments, another Robert Boswell discussing authorial custody; another day James Longenbach breaking down language into its most elemental forms. The days galloped along, with workshops and craft classes and countless readings, all of them instructional and inspiring. There was a visit to Robert Frost’s cabin. I walked in the woods by myself one afternoon, down to a creek, and laid on a rock, looking up at the trees and the sky—I felt outside of my regular life all week, but maybe most so during that half-hour.

I missed Andrew and the girls, of course, and around day seven I felt like I was ready to get back—but still, coming home was difficult. After being immersed in a world of writing and reading, I was back in real life, with barely time to drink a glass of water let alone apply some of the things I’d learned to my own work. It was frustrating, and still is, since those ten days seemed to build up a good deal of momentum that I’m now unable to follow through on. But, as before, I’ll make use—good use—of the time I have. Being around like-minded people, all toiling away (some in obscurity, some not), was motivating.

I wouldn’t have been able to have this experience at all if it hadn’t been for Andrew and my parents—the girls were, perhaps, sorry to have me return after all the fun they had. I still miss “the mountain,” but perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to see it again one day.   

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