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Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Reflection

I just returned to the real world after a magical week writing poems by the ocean on Martha's Vineyard. I was privileged enough to receive a Poet & Author Fellowship from Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing to attend their Summer Writers Conference. There, I learned from Christopher Citro that it's a good idea to maintain a blog so that when people come upon my website they know I'm active and still writing. So this is me doing that — I'm active and still writing! I'll post irregularly, just whenever I feel like I have something to write about. This first post will be a reflection on my incredible time on the island.

Being a writer is basically all I've ever wanted to do with my life, but after getting my first full-time job out of grad school, having a partnership, and then becoming the co-EIC of The Miramichi Reader I felt like I just wasn't writing anymore. I didn't feel like myself, and that was making me a worse partner, a worse friend, and worse publicist and editor. I really mourned my life before all of my time seemed to be occupied by other people's needs from me (I truly can't imagine having a kid. I have so much respect for writers who are parents too!). In an effort to make space for my writing, I applied to residencies and fellowships. I came upon the Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing on an Instagram ad and figured I'd shoot my shot. The application was a single poem and a letter of intent so I didn't have high hopes, but I learned something from my best friend in undergrad that I take with me every single time I apply to something, and that is: if a man with confidence but half the qualifications would apply, then you should apply too. And so I did! And I got in with a fellowship! Just proves that if you never apply you'll never get in. Shoot! Your! Shot!

The conference brought together writers from all over North America, many of whom were queer! It was healing and rejuvenation to spend a full week by the water just thinking about poetry and writing poetry. I found it so incredibly generative. I wrote more poems in that one week than I have in probably six months, and I pushed past fears of writing to a form. In the past 4 days I've written a contrapuntal poem, a formal glosa, and a sestina about my friends and the moon (#justqueerthings). What I learned from Christopher Citro and Su Cho blew my mind, and reminded me all I'm capable of in my writing.

Today I woke up in my own apartment feeling the big sad - something my partner, who works in theatre, experiences after shows. You get so close to a community of people and then it's just ... over. But of course, it's not over. We're poets! We're sentimental as heck! We're gonna stay in touch, and we're gonna carry what we took from Martha's Vineyard with us, because we carry all of our experiences, and everything we love, with us all the time.

In an effort to not let my writing fall to the back-burner again, I'm going to write first. I was in the habit of doing everything I "needed" to do first (namely the things others rely on me for), but then by the time it got to writing I just had no energy left to be creative. I know I'm not going to forget to do the things that others are relying on me for, so I'm going to write before doing those things.

I also think that the fact that I do everything else on my laptop has limited my writing because I get home and I don't want to look at a screen anymore. My time at MVICW also reminded me that I do find free writing generative, and I can write by hand. So I'm going to take my notebook outside for 15-30min every day and just write whatever comes to mind. I think I'll find it grounding, at the very least. I know I can't go off to retreats whenever I need to write, so I need to reconfigure a way to prioritize writing and submitting/publishing in my busy every day. We'll see how this works out! I'm really proud of what I've been able to write this past week, and I hope to publish and share it with you.


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