School on the Hill

Back at VCFA and it is like I’ve never left. Today is the first full day of classes, so we will be in full swing now. When I was in first semester, there was basically a full day of orientation before we even started classes, so I enjoy having a little bit of time to get settled and organized.  Plus, it is basically like a family reunion – seeing everyone again.

We received our faculty evaluations yesterday and I don’t think, again, I truly comprehended the work that I did. Not trying to sound self important, but it is funny how much I still don’t credit myself for the work that I’ve completed – even with all of my tweets and facebooking telling folks how many words I’d written that day. I’ve pondered why I do this. I think it is a combination of needing to commit to something and putting it out there means that I have to, and telling people why I’m up in my room writing most weekends.

In my self evaluation, I wrote how many pages I had thought that I had written, and I counted myself short. I also had completely forgotten a piece that I had written in the first packet that could be something quite lovely one day.

It isn’t just the amount of pages, it is also what I’ve learned about craft. How I read differently now.

The evaluation made me a little weepy because she was so lovely, so supportive about the things that I had done – things that I hadn’t up until that point really gave myself credit for.

As much as I “patted myself on the back” with a hot bath and a nice dinner, I truly didn’t recognize what I had done. Just moved forward.

Perhaps this is a lesson in pausing. In recognizing our efforts and celebrating them. Being okay in celebrating them. Not thinking (as I even said above) that one is being too self important or selfish in some way for “showing off” to ourselves our accomplishments. I wonder if this is what holds us back…how can we succeed if we cannot accept our own success?

Or even our failures. We learn from those, too.

The third semester…third semester!…is about the critical thesis. Some embrace it, many fear it. I love critical work, and have been playing with the idea for quite some time, so hopefully I can jump in.

I was accepted into a small short story workshop with Alan Cumyn. There are six of us in the group, which should make it a very cozy creative space. I love how I’ve come full circle with this mentor. The person who I began with in Banff, I get to continue to work here.

My piece is a story that I had been working on for a few years which, after my work this semester,  had been completely revised – new point of view, tone and, hopefully, not so melodramatic. It gets discussed next week, so, for now, I get to embrace the brilliance of the other pieces.

Last winter I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Grace Lin who was visiting here. The Shining Scroll, an L.M. Montgomery journal, published the interview. You can see it here.  Part One contains a wonderful overview of the conference that I attended last October and Part Two contains the Q&A, plus many other nuggets.

I will not promise a blog every day. Residency is pretty hectic, but I suspect there will be times where I shall need to come here and muck about. I am hopefully going to do a Q&A with one of the visiting authors here…I’ll be sure to share that if that happens.

Happy Tuesday…it is Tuesday, right?

About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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5 Responses to School on the Hill

  1. WendieO says:

    Lovely. You've captured the VC feeling exactly.I'll be searching the internet every day, looking for posts from Vermont. Thanks for writing.

  2. It is so hard to take time to celebrate. That's what's great about VCFA, you have friends there that will always pat you on the back and give you hugs for your accomplishments. Alan is wonderful. Say hello to him for me.

  3. Thanks, guys. Wendie, I appreciate the compliment. Anna, it is so true and I'll be sure to send your regards.

  4. Chelsey says:

    This is such a nice post. The school is absolutely lovely!I love what you said about holding ourselves back from success for fear of being seen as selfish. Hopefully you never feel that way about your writing! A piece of writing is a creation and worth cherishing and DEFINITELY worth all the satisfaction that comes with it =).(By the way, I'm not sure if you would remember me, but I was the S&S Canada intern in the fall. We met a few times! I really enjoy your blog!)

  5. Hi Chelsey,Thanks for your comments. I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog.I do remember you. Hope things are going well!Mel

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