Last Day at the Writers Colony: What I Did, What I Have, and What I Miss

For my posts about being away at the writers colony all month, see here for week 1, week 2, and week 3. This is now the end of my last week; today is my final day. A cab will soon be arriving to take me away to the train station. I still, um, have to pack up my rooms.

What I Did
I came here with two goals in mind. These were to: make solid progress on two new books. One is YA and one is tween. I couldn’t choose between them, so I decided to be ambitious and try to switch my attention back and forth, a week here, a week there. And it worked. I can’t ever remember the last time I actually accomplished something I set out to do in the time I allotted for myself. This proves how amazing the colony experience is for me, how well it works. It also proves that I should be flexible… I didn’t give myself a page count or a word count to aspire to, so really whatever I produced would have been a success. But now I know how to handle time away at a residency like this: I shouldn’t come with a project already written and spend the time revising it (which is what I did at MacDowell). Instead, I should come with my mind open. I should come with either the very beginnings of something I’m excited about or an idea I know I want to explore. I can’t even tell you how well this worked. If I am ever lucky enough to do another residency, I’ll go with new ideas again. This time, it was magic.

What I Have

But maybe you want to know what I did in terms of pages? 130. 130 pages! For a slow writer who revises as she goes and can spend six hours staring at one paragraph, this is more progress than I ever expected in four weeks. I’ve made solid starts on both of the books I wanted to work on here. And E read the brand-new pages of one project in particular and said that, for those pages alone, having me away for so long was worth it. Oh, E. Thank you.

What I Miss

What I miss at home: Thai curry tofu. Thai tofu with cashew nuts. Thai rama peanut tofu. All things tofu, especially E’s cooking, the way he’ll slip some tofu into Italian food, the way he always cooks just how I like, and the hot stone pot with tofu at our favorite Korean place downtown. Also: My table against the wall at Think Coffee. The for-here mocha at Think Coffee in its enormous white mug. My desk at the Writers Room. My new writing routine. My city. Braving the streets without fear of ticks. Talk of publishing. Connecting with other YA writers. Walking through the park early morning before a day spent writing. Walking the streets of the Village when seeking inspiration. Stealing sample pear chunks at the gourmet supermarket on Sixth Avenue. A toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese. E’s dark brown eyes, in person, not photographs. Being able to sleep all the way through the night. Did I say Thai food? And I miss: E, e, e, e, e, e, e, e. I miss him so much, I’m about to cause a scene tonight in Penn Station. Oddly, if you were wondering, I don’t miss TV.

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