I’m trying to wrap my brain around the residency before it all fades away, but frankly I’m still exhausted from the whole experience (plus a mostly unrelated health issue on my first day back to work :P) so I’d better write down what I remember, now, before it’s gone.
VCFA is magical. They call it “Brigadoon” because it feels like a place that only exists while you’re there (once a semester) and maybe vanishes when you go home. It’s a place out of place, for a time out of time, full of words and stories and craft. But really, it’s basically Hogwarts: there is a magical sorting process for finding your advisor for the semester, an advisor that, much like a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, changes every term (that observation credit goes to my classmate, Adam Vandergac). During your hours off, you may take a trip down the hill into “downtown” Montpelier/Hogsmeade, where you can get beer (though not butter beer) at the Three Penny Taproom, or used books signed by their authors at the Bear Pond Book Store. You can get gelato in crazy flavors, though nothing like ear wax (chevre and fig was my personal favorite), and if you’re lucky, some chocolate frogs.
But the magic in the halls of the VCFA buildings, in the chapels and galleries where lectures are held, and in the classrooms where workshops take place, is pure and bright and palpable. The traditions make you feel like a part of a family–larger than some, but small enough to feel real, to feel close, to feel true. And as one poet said during the reading of one of those traditions, “VCFA is better than Hogwarts, because Voldemort is not here.”
But there is real magic, and there is dancing, and naming ceremonies, and welcoming ceremonies, and sorting, and laughing, and supporting, and brilliance–everywhere, brilliant words and thoughts and humanity.
Never have I felt so much like I belonged. That’s the thing. That’s the biggest thing of all. I feel certain these are my people. I feel certain this is where I am meant to be in my life right now. And that alone is worth the price of admission.
My advisor for this semester is Tim Wynne-Jones, author of many, many books (and good friends with Philip Pullman!!!!). I don’t know what to expect from the months ahead besides hard work and a lot of reading, but I am so excited to be a part of this school of storycraft, honing my skills as a writer and finding my community in something that is generally such a solitaire art.
(Also, did I mention I have access to the WorldCat library?! :D)
That’s it for now…I have a lot of work to do!