Here we are, future children’s book authors (and a few already published), gathered together in this insane double-H weather (only hot and humid, not hazy) for another retreat from the “real” world to recharge our batteries by staying up lae, getting up early, and doing a lot of sitting.
This second time around the residency already feels like it’s rushing past. Everyone (from my perspective) is quickly trying to catch up, tell our stories, frantically at times. When an informal group reaches more than six people the volume begins to increase exponentially. Inappropriate topics become the norm. Standing in line at the cafeteria feels oddly familiar, like we were only standing in that line last week and not six months ago. It’s as if an entire year’s worth of school gets crammed into these semesters, all those casual moments normally spent with classmates after class in cafes or in study rooms are condensed into bullion cubes of ten minutes, chewed hastily and swallowed just as fast. In quiet moments we’re searching out those we haven’t had close face time with. What’s the hurry? It’s only the first day?
I think it’s because we now know how quick these residencies feel that there’s the added urgency to make every minute count. As peers, professionally, down the road, perhaps we’ll have more time to stretch out and enjoy our connections; or maybe this is pracice for the real world, where authors only get fleeting moments at conventions and whatnot. The residency is the oasis in the desert of solitary that is the writing process. We slake this thirst for one another’s company precisely because we are physically so far removed from one another.
Like summer camp, where you only see your new best friend for life for 10 days a year. Or in our case 20 days a year. Today we met with the counselors who told us that now it’s time to take camp more seriously, that we’ve had our fun and now it’s time to build on that previosu work. Tomorrow it all begins, the workshops and lectures and the battle to stay on top of note-taking and good thoughts and fellowship and ideas.
Bring on the residency.