The difference between attending a summer writing workshop and teaching at one is that teaching, you lose five pounds. And sleep for twelve hours the next day. And wake up craving bacon. Today I’m wearing a new pink shirt that fits perfectly (almost as if the one who gave it to me knew me by heart). I’m wading through laundry. It’s raining and I want to be writing. I want to be writing. That too is the difference.
I leave the thirty two students eager for my own pencils and white computer and eyes and ear and memories and head. I think about my novel as I drive by the places that prompted it, touching each factory, each brick house out the window like a stepping stone. I drive with the top down. I go home just at that time when gold strikes the fields, eight-thirty, nine. Boys are driving four-wheelers across the train tracks, and right at the turn-off to Lexington, white ducks feed in the grass. The whole while, I'm thinking, You would love this.
I dream in poems. Gray and green.
I want to do right by the world. I used to think of my novel as a distraction: I wrote it because I didn’t want to write poems right then. And then I wrote it to tell the story, what happened, my side, my character’s side. And then I wrote it because I had been writing it, to complete a circle, see the end. But now I think I wrote it to survive. I think I was writing it all along so we—-before I even knew there would be a we—-would live.
I write poems because I can’t not write them. But I will write novels to live.
If there was any doubt that we could carry a forty-pound child in the rain and outrun, one of us in four-inch platform sandals, a tornado at our backs—-I’m happy to report, the answer is yes.