I’m currently in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, one of my favorite places. Having come to VCCA many times over the past decade or so, I know the drill, most of the staff, and many of the returning Fellows. This time, there are people here I’ve met in various ways: one I know from previous residencies, one I know from Sewanee, a couple I know from WriterHouse in Charlottesville, one I met at a conference I taught at years ago, one I met recently at the Queens MFA Alumni Weekend. And of course lots of other folks I’ve enjoyed meeting and getting to know in the past week.
My work experience this time has been unusual. I arrived with a 70,000 word novel manuscript that has been out of mind for two years. That’s because I had been working on this book and another book more or less in parallel, until I decided in early 2014 to focus on the other project. So I put this one aside and gave full attention to the other. That other book is now “finished” (pending comments from my agent), and I’m now returning to the one I put aside.
How strange and exciting to be reading through a novel I wrote and have basically forgotten! As one of the other Fellows put it, I’m “reloading the book into my memory” at this stage and not really doing revisions. I’m getting a sense first of what’s there and an inkling of what needs to be done and then, beginning soon, I’ll enter that phase.
When I’m here, I don’t usually go “off campus” in the evenings, but last night I drove down to Randolph College in Lynchburg to attend a reading. It’s only about 20 minutes away, so another Fellow and I went after dinner to hear Sue William Silverman read from her new book, The Pat Boone Fan Club. She’s the current Pearl S. Buck Writer in Residence there, a position I held two years ago, so it was fun to see some old friends–Bunny Goodjohn and Gary Dop–who are the faculty there. (Terrific reading. I look forward to reading the book.)
I’m here at VCCA for three more weeks. I haven’t given myself any kind of a deadline. Let’s just see how far we can get on this project in the time left.