Yesterday was the first day of the Converse College MFA, but we all glided into our new setting. We received our packets, school IDs, parking passes, and key (if you're staying on campus). We had our meeting warning us to keep up with the work, follow the rules, and what material we needed to turn in when we leave.
At dinner, there was a hum that can only be attained through people with like minded passions. Individuals jumped from various conversations speaking with fellow students and faculty members. It was similar to writer's conferences that I've been to, but we all know that once this week is over, we're tied to one another for the next couple of years.
I got to meet the ladies who are part of my first group. Kim, Kathy, Sara, and I will be critiquing each other's work under the guidance of our mentor, Cary Holladay. It was so nice last night because Cary sought each of us out in the crowd to welcome us and introduce herself. I was at ease. We had already had the opportunity to spend a few minutes getting to know our fellow students before the faculty arrived.
Any time someone reads your work in progress it can be like being caught on your worst day — no makeup, hair all mussed up, and that pallor you have when first startled awake from a deep sleep.
It is still scary to let people read your finished work, but by that time, hopefully you're presenting your best and not likely to land in the worst dressed list or as they say in the South, "Bless her heart. What was she thinking when she picked out that outfit? Did she not look in the mirror before she left the house?"
I'm looking forward to the second day. We have a full day of craft lectures, critiques, and readings scheduled.
Last night Susan Tekulve and Denise Duhamel were our faculty readers. Susan's novel, In the Garden of Stone was just published by Hub City Press and won the SC First Novel Prize. Denise's latest book of poetry, Blowout is also available