If the world were an ideal place, the July 2007 Stonecoast residency would have been perfect. But life happens and things aren't always perfect, but sometimes that lack of perfection just makes the experience all the richer.
Three days into the residency I found out that my father had passed away. Although he had been ill, very ill, hearing that he was gone still shocked me. For twenty years my dad has been beating death off with a mighty big stick - and winning the better part of the battle. This time when death called, I believe my dad welcomed him like an old friend stopping by for a refreshing drink on a hot summer day. Love deeply, live passionately, and follow your dreams.
That's what my dad always told me. So, that's what I did. I followed my dreams all the way to Freeport, Maine where I found some of the most incredible people I could ever hope to meet. The support and concern that the administration, faculty, and my fellow students showed me after my dad passed away will always be a testament to the strength of the Stonecoast program.
My fellow popular fiction students not only became part of my tribe, they became part of my family. They were there to sooth and comfort me when I needed it. Even better, they were there to kick my ass too.
The intense learning environment at Stonecoast was amazing. I could have gone home, but my dad wanted me to stay and I'm glad I did. The seminars given by graduating students and faculty, along with the daily writing workshops, helped me to understand writing on a whole new level. I began to see the fullness of my characters's lives even before they hit the page; I finally realized how to thread multiple plots together; and I learned ways to show character motivation through the use of well placed details within the prose.
As much as I'd like to spell out the secrets to writing, it's just not possible because my way isn't your way. The biggest lesson I've learned is that writing is a journey that we each need to accomplish on our own. It's a journey that we all take at our own pace, one step at a time. If we're lucky, we have friends to help us along the way.
Somehow, I managed to luck out and get Jim Kelly as my mentor this semester. I guess paying off the Fates worked in my favor. Yep, I'm pretty damned lucky. JPK is a story doctor extraordinaire and he's mine to torture all semester long. My pal Linda got the lovely and talented Kelly Link as her mentor and sweet Diana got the Queen of Suspense Julia Spencer Fleming as her mentor. I can't help but to feel like we have just embarked on an amazing adventure and we're going to have one hell of an experience along the way! :-)
If you'd like to see a few pictures of the residency, check out these photos
Thanks again to everyone for your support over the last week. It hurts like hell to lose a parent, but each kind word makes the string a little easier to bear.