The Workbooks are read, the assignments finished, the schedule set.

As I prepare to leave for my very first MFA residency on Friday, I am mostly excited. In just two days, I’ll be travelling back to Kentucky to stay at the Louisville Brown Hotel with dozens of other writers who fall on various places along the line between “just like me” and “polar opposite.” For ten whole days, my life will be devoted solely to writing, to the craft and the art of it, to doing whatever it takes to be the best I can be, and encouraging others to do the same.

I am more than a little nervous, as well. Some of these others are far more “writer” than me. Whether because they are older, because they are better, or because they have a published book, the imaginary faces of the people I will meet loom with intimidating smiles and firm handshakes.

I am also grateful. The best decision I’ve ever made for my writing was to marry Caleb, someone who not only accepts the fact that writing is what I want to do, but supports me in pursuing this degree, rejoices with me when new opportunities arise, and celebrates with me over acceptance letters. (More on these soon!) Writing is a lonely business, but so much less so living with someone who wants the same goals for me that I have set. And this week, less so immersed in a community of others who have those very same goals for themselves.

More than anything I am determined to make the most of this amazing opportunity! As confusing as things can sometimes be working online, when one sentence skimmed instead of read could mean you miss a VERY important piece of information that you didn’t know about soon before something needs to be completed, I know this program will be the boost I need to re-develop the writing habit, and to think of writing as a daily habit for a lifetime, rather than a monthly assignment for a class.

So here’s to new experiences, honed skills, and excellent wordsmithing. Spalding, here I come!


Country Manor Adventures

Nancy Drew Mystery Series

Last week Caleb and I had the fun task of house sitting for some friends of ours while they were away on a medical mission trip. Their house is lovely, and living above ground again made it even sadder that spring was not yet here. Each day we looked out of as many windows as we could ever hope to have at a (usually sunny!) garden and fields to go walking in – but the temperature was still nippy enough to keep me mostly inside.

We did venture out one day and head up to the town of Niles, MI. (We went to see Noah, but you can ask Caleb about that one.) There’s a little secondhand and antique bookshop in the downtown area that I love, called A. Casperson Books. It’s one of the few really magical bookshops left to be found anymore, and we make a point of stopping in whenever we’re in Niles for a movie or anything. Books line the shelves, walls, floors – every nook and cranny – so there is always something exciting to find.

Not everyone knows that for several years now I have been collecting the old Nancy Drew books. They have blue board covers with orange titles and silhouettes of one of my favorite childhood companions printed on the front cover. I have several of them now, but they can be pretty hard to find (in the antique/rare book world, they are considered “scarce.”) A. Casperson’s is special because the first time I went the owner had two of these books with intact dust jackets on display – it is immensely harder to find these books with dust jackets than without. I’ve found more, at least of the orange titles, reliably on every visit to the shop.

Last week, however, I was blown away by how many of these books were on a shelf behind the checkout desk. There were more than a dozen without dust jackets, and three with them – many more than I’ve ever before seen in one place. The other difficult thing with these old books is that there are so many different editions, some with only minor changes, that it can be really difficult to tell whether or not a book is a first edition (the very scarce). On this trip, however, I finally found my first first edition – and it is a copy of the first book in the series, too! Now if only it had a dust jacket… 🙂 I left a happy camper.

We had a great week in the house of many windows, and because were dog-sitting, too, I got some quality canine snuggles in. The availability of natural light from windows that provide great views of the countryside was a great aid for me with the writing I needed to do (that and the awesome-if-nerdy event of finding my first first edition). My first residency for the MFA program I’m in is at the end of May, and this week was the deadline for turning in our first writing sample to be discussed in workshop at the residency. I sent mine of today – not without a bit of fear and trembling.

In the meantime, the temperatures are rising! Soon I’ll be suggesting you go enjoy a good book – first edition or not – out of doors.