Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 2015 Residency

Another June is gone, and with it, another June residency at dear old Seton Hill University.  I treasure every residency at SHU.  Apart from it being one of two weeks out of the year where people treat me like I know what I'm doing, June is always special because that's when WPF alumni show up for the In Your Write Mind writer's retreat, and it's a chance for us to catch up with former students who are now our colleagues.  And it brings up a few great points.

First off, I've been lucky.  A large number of people I've mentored through the program have gone on to publish their thesis and other books.  That has little to do with me, I promise, as those people are talented and would most likely have succeeded with or without me. But they're all genuinely good people.  When I'm done being a teacher, I consider those people my dear friends, and I feel my life is richer for having them in it.

Second, residency is an amazing time for networking.  In addition to our guest speaker, Chuck Wendig, we had people who represented a great many other industries.  We had video game companies, movie producers, teachers, personal assistants, and, of course, publishers.  And half the time, no one knew to whom we were speaking.  We just knew that we were interesting people having a real conversation and that we treated each other with respect.  Only after speaking to someone (and perhaps being ignorant of their profession) did we discover that all these wonderful people were... Well... Wonderful.  I am always and forever humbled by the fantastic people associated with our department, and it makes me proud to be a part of it.

Lots of talk about the newly legal gay marriage happened at this res...

Third, there is just no substitute for being in a room full of creative types who are all throwing their weirdest ideas out on the floor.  It's a bizarre game of one-upmanship.  And no matter who is declared the victor, anyone who hears the crossfire of insanity that issues forth wins.  In one evening, we dodged the pack-hunting Scottiraptor.  In another, we found ourselves examining the merits of the wall-o-beer at Headkeepers.  We danced with superheroes and discovered that, in our hearts, we love to play the villain.  It was an amazing time.

Pictured:  Better dancing than ours...

Fourth, I am a writer.  No kidding, I hear you say.  But every six months, my batteries get recharged.  And only once in that year am I held accountable.  I meet with my former-students-now-colleagues and am asked the fateful and feared question:  "What'cha working on?"  I hear their success stories and am proud of them for all they've done, and it motivates me to get my ass in gear.  And I think that's the real magic of the program.  Yes, people learn how to be a better writer (and, believe me, I learn just as much from the students as they do from me), but more, the program inspires.  The program conjures greatness and drags creativity from people that few other activities or workshops or retreats or seminars can.

Get back to work, you...
So, to my beloved Seton Hill University, and to the Masters of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program housed therein, thank you.  Thank you for being you, and thank you for being so generous with your students, and for letting me be counted among your proud faculty.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do.
Every story begins with a single line...

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