A whole week at Shared Worlds and I took exactly zero photos. What’s wrong with me?
(Not that it matters, but my soundtrack for this week has consisted mostly of the newest Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach (“Empire Ants” is going right now), supplemented by the vocal stylings of Shared Worlds director, Jeremy Jones.)
I’ve got my CD with the students’ stories, though, as well as books by visiting lecturers, readers, and critique experts: Michael Bishop and Marly Youmans. They are honed and cunning writers, those two, sharp as spears and sweet as pecan pie. (Say it like pea-can, we’re in South Carolina.) I spent a little bit of time admiring their critiques of the student’s stories, and I gained valuable experience points just from that glancing contact with their expertise.
One of the reasons I make sure to be a part of Shared Worlds every year is that I get to sit in on lectures and classes with sterling writers like these. It’s a potent dose of education every time.
Doing the student critiques this year was a rejuvenating, re-centering experience, just as it was last year. It was also a harrowing sprint, requiring a run out for sugar indulgences and caffeine bombs to keep me awake throughout the long night… except, that’s not quite right. It’s the stories that kept me up into the wee hours and got me out of bed at 5am to keep on reading. Knowing that the Shared Worlds students were eager to get their critiques back, eager to get back under the hoods of their stories, made the choice of sleep versus stories an easy one. I chose stories. I’m glad I did.
On Friday night I had the distinct honor of reading alongside Youmans and Bishop, who read a few of their poems and sparked a lovely discussion of language and poetry with the students. I read an edited excerpt from my unsold (and, now, unfinished) novel, Wound. (This is the same material I read in the closet at Manuel’s, if you’re keeping track). A fine evening.
Now that the camp is over, I am the best kind of exhaustedâ€”the kind that comes with empowering sleep, the kind that leads to new enthusiasm. I am eager to get back to my desk tomorrow night and continue the work on my own novel and stories. I am reminded that any spare moment is a moment to write, muses be damned, and that every hour spent writing is potentially an hour of play.
Thanks to the students and faculty and sponsors of Shared Worlds for another stellar year. Now, beer. Then, sleep. For tomorrow I fly.