I’ve been meaning to post about this for awhile, but kept getting distracted. While we were in Portugal I found out that several new writers were joining the faculty at VCFA this summer, and two of them write fantasy!!!! And not only that, but the theme day for this year is "Writing Fantasy"! And not only that, but we were all asked to read The Wizard of Oz to prepare for the residency. When I heard the news I felt as though the threads of my life were converging rather nicely. The two new faculty members who have written fantasy are Franny Billingsley who wrote the beautiful book The Folk Keeper (a girl disguised as a boy, seal maidens and a red-headed lad! What more could you possibly want from a book?) and Susan Fletcher whose book Alphabet of Dreams was, by chance, already on my shelf. As for the theme day, well, it makes such a lovely change to have a school celebrate the genre I’ve always loved, instead of looking down it’s nose at it. And The Wizard of Oz. When I was small-er I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. With the books, the musical, and the terrifying film "sequel" Return to Oz. On my first day of preschool I insisted to all my teachers that my name was Dorothy. And I had read the book so many times I nearly had it memorized. But over the years I forgot a lot about it. I just finished reading it and the experience was surreal. There were so many things that were different from the film that I had forgotten, but as soon as I read them I remembered them again. I must admit, though, that I was a little disappointed. It reminded me of re-reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Somehow when I read those books as a kid they filled my imagination, but reading them as an older person (I hate to say adult) they were much sparser, emptier than I remember. It’s as though half of what I loved about them was what existed in my head, not the actual books themselves.
I have two weeks left before school starts and I’m starting to realize just what I’ve gotten myself into, lol. It’s going to be so much work, but I’m honestly so excited. I was helping my mom at a sewing conference at a college campus recently and spent a lot of my time there reading and revising the first part of my novel. At one point I was sitting in the computer room in the dorm we were staying at and a student walked in. I realized that he probably thought I was working on a paper and at that moment I felt so elated, because I was sitting there on a college campus doing work that I loved, that was fun, laughing hysterically at my own ridiculous manuscript. That is what I always wanted college to be. And that is why I am so glad to be doing this program.
I admit I did have a few days of panic when I got the manuscripts of the other students in my workshop because that meant that real, live strangers were reading my novel and possibly thinking thoughts about me. Horrors! What if they don’t like fantasy? I worried. What if they think I and my novel are not fit for human society???? Now before any one rolls their eyes and starts to remind me that being a writer means people will read your work and criticize it let me just say that that is not what I was afraid of. I think ever since my horrendous poetry workshop experience at Smith I’ve been terrified that as a writer I just won’t fit in. My poetry stuck out horribly in that workshop. Horribly. Everyone else was writing pretty typical college fare. I was writing surrealism. Sometimes with, God forbid, foreign words thrown in. I still cringe when I think of it. It was like wearing crimson and walking into a room of white. No one knew what to do with me. So I was really worrying that that would happen again. That I would be the only one writing something funny, or fantastical, etc, etc.
I am not allowed to talk about the other students’ work, but let me tell you, boy was I wrong. I am in some amazing, scary, funny, imaginative company. And that was only the work from one workshop 🙂 In other words, I am feeling much better. And that made me realize another thing that I love about this program. Everyone is doing this because they love it. Imagine. A school in which you can read and/or write picture books for your homework. Or children’s poetry. Or fantasy or scifi. All the things that intelligent adults are not supposed to bother with. That is going to be my life for the next two years. I can’t believe my good fortune 🙂 And the sense of community is astonishing. I’ve already had an invitation to an event from a graduate of the program who I know of, but do not know personally. And everyone I’ve talked to online has bent over backwards to welcome me and answer my questions.
All that being said, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to keep up with livejournal. I am going to be so busy!!!! But I would like to keep up some sort of reporting about my projects. I may also have a part time job at the children’s bookstore in town (which has a new owner and has totally been revamped) so that may take up the rest of my time. It’s such a lovely place to be though. *sigh* Maybe everything will work out after all 🙂