Midnight Lasagna

Home again. 

Arrived in Toronto late last night to a warm hug, a barking puppy and homemade Midnight Lasagna. It is nothing that different from regular lasagna, just that you eat it at the stroke of midnight and float in dreams of cheese and tomato sauce. R made so much, that we’ll be eating it all weekend. No complaints here. 

It is always hard to explain the intensity of residency life, or how much goes on there. I am taking a couple of days to regroup, watch things – like BBC’s Sherlock Holmes- and get caught up with the outside world. 

Vermont residency is so intense that finding a moment to write anything (ironically) is difficult. This is why you only heard from me once and why the following post is going to be REALLY LONG…

My colleagues and I wrote a few blogs and posted it on Through the Tollbooth

Rachel Lieberman interviewed faculty member and Canadian author guru, Tim Wynne-Jones: Montpelier? Venice? Where’s Tim Wynne-Jones?  
Peter Patrick Langella gave us a rundown of a day in the life at VCFA residency and highlighted a few lectures: Cynthia Leitich Smith Rules!
My Q&A with Libba Bray – I got to chat with Libba Bray! You all know how much of a fangirl I am…so that was just awesome. 

Tim Martin’s Q&A with Marla Frazee finished the series. 

We have such rockstars at the college, that it can take a few days (or residencies) to come up to an author and talk with them (let alone work with them.) I love how I never quite get over the starstruckedness that I get when I meet my favourite authors. Although I have learned to be professional and not jump up and down and become completely incoherent, (at least not around them) I can have the outward appearance of the professional. I guess I can thank my day job for that. And, thankfully, it helps when the author is so approachable and awesome. 

Case in point Libba Bray (see above.) Also, the first residency it took me until the last day to say “hello” to Rita Williams-Garcia. And, she’s so friendly and lovely, it was all me! 

The “I am not worthy,” feeling strikes again. 

This seems to plague most artists. That feeling that one is not worthy of writing, or being in place with such talented amazing people. Being in residency is one of the most vulnerable situations one can be in. Ten days in dorms with about 100 other people who are naturally introverted on some level being forced to eat, sleep and work together. The conversations never stop. And we are all (faculty and students) being fed with lectures and workshops on craft.

We have readings every night. I didn’t even know what I was going to read until that day. I wasn’t sure, even after all of the fine work that I did over the semester, what would be worthy to read out loud. 

Nothing ever seems good enough. 

Each residency, we get to put down a list of people we wish to work with and then we leave it up to the magicians of the program to give us one of our choices. This time around I had to pick a minimum of four. I already had a good idea of who I wanted to work with, the question was: “Am I brave enough to get out of my own way and put down those that scare me (even if they are awesome there are those that just scare us because of their brilliance)?” So, I put the four people down, thinking that whomever I got would be exactly who I needed to get. 

When the list went up last Friday night, I had to double check the names. I almost didn’t believe it. But there it was under the name Rita Williams-Garcia, Melanie Fishbane. 

Really, it comes down to what I said above, getting out of your own way. This was a theme that came up a lot during residency. Whether you decides to use a pendulum to help get in touch with your intuition (I may or may not have used mine), or find a moment and get quiet so you can hear yourself, getting out of your way – to write from the scary and scarred places and finding those who will help you do this – is probably the bravest thing you can do. 

For me, it came down to ignoring the insecure phrase that told me that I sucked and that everyone hated me. Two days of negative mind chatter slunk its way in and took root in my core. I didn’t see it a first, lurking there. Once I did, I went with my friend down to the Co-op, bought some vitamins, gluten free snacks, a Bach Flowers Remedy, and low fat yogurt for breakfast and told myself that I was being ridiculous. Even vocalizing it to dear friends helped me recognize it and let it go.

You wouldn’t think that vitamins and gluten free snacks would help my mood. But it did. Not only because it it helped to stabilize my sugar, but it was me taking care of myself. Taking care of yourself, shows you that you are worthy. No one outside of yourself. No friend. No lover. No author. No mentor. None of them can tell you how amazing you are. Only you can do that. Only I could do that. 

Still, having friends who support you and remind you of your awesomeness can go a long way. One of the VCFA traditions is to give your class a name. There is a reveal which requires a little theatre talent and some creativity. I guess it is a way to distinguish yourself. We are calling ourselves the Dystropians (ha! get it!) Hint: We will be graduating in 2013.
One of our clues was a video that went up on Facebook a few weeks before residency:

Then we showed this one the day of the reveal:

We even have a logo designed by one of our amazing artists who is also a writer (I KNOW!) Check it out:

Right now I am writing beside R, the puppy, the kitten and listening to The Beatles. I am covered in a warm blanket with a green tea close by. 

On tonight’s dinner menu: Midnight Lasagna. 


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.
This entry was posted in VCFA, Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Midnight Lasagna

  1. Oh, wow. Thank you for this, Mel. I really needed to read it. It seems that insecurity and fear is part of a writer's lot, but we can combat them and your blog helps in that fight.

  2. Thank you for saying so, Erin. Know that you are amazing and one of the people I think of who inspire me to write. I'm happy that my blog helped you!

  3. Sheryl says:

    Beautiful…just like you. Have fun with Rita I think you two will be a great match.

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