Adirondack chairs abound on campus

At the
Kenyon Writers Workshop as a Fellow in Rebecca McClanahan‘s Literary Nonfiction
Workshop, June 2013:

– The friendly reception makes me feel welcome; trying to find my housing on
campus makes me feel stupid.


I stayed in this apartment building, albeit on the other side.

Day 1
– Why am I doing this to myself? The social awkwardness is so
uncomfortable. Walk into the dining hall: Whom to sit with?
What small talk do I come up with?


Early morning on campus – my first cat picture ever!

Day 2 – Feel myself relaxing. My reading is over, I know my way around,
and I know enough people to say hello to, go for coffee with, chat with while
in line at the deli. And the workshop already has inside jokes going, so
bonding is happening. Plus I discover my two housemates are really cool. We sit
up late, chatting into the night.


Ascension Hall where our workshop met

Day 3 – A general feeling of inadequacy takes over – I don’t know half the
books being mentioned in class, and I’m the fellow. At least I’ve got a routine
going. I know when I have to leave the house to make it to the computer lab to
print out feedback for manuscript discussions and my writing assignment to read
in class, with enough time to spare to swing by the cafeteria to get coffee
before sauntering over to Ascension Hall to arrive at workshop on time.


Samuel Mather Hall – I just loved that window front.

Day 4 – I thought listening to nine pieces of writing every day in workshop,
plus twenty pieces every evening at the student reading would make my head
explode, but it doesn’t. Instead I am enjoying the creativity. Today was my last round of
conferences with workshop participants to discuss the manuscripts they sent me
ahead of time. I love talking to people about their work. This is good. Now I
know why I’m doing this to myself. And I love my routine; I skip dining hall dinner for cheese and crackers on the couch and work straight through until it’s time to go to the readings.


The Middle Path at Kenyon College where we walked to and from class.

Day 5 – I’ve been producing some new writing as I am supposed to since this is, after
all, a “generative” workshop, focused on producing new work, on
getting out of my comfort zone (aha! see Day 1), on stretching my writing
muscles. Tonight we had an elegant dinner with the whole workshop at the Kenyon Inn, organized by the formidable
Rebecca, who takes people under her wing.

Kenyon is in Amish Country

Day 6 – That sinking feeling that something great is coming to an end. Some
tears and upset in workshop, but that’s normal, people are, after all, reading
about their own lives, and sometimes that touches a soft spot they didn’t even
know was there. Final pow wow with my housemates on what they thought of the readings.

The necklace was a gift from the
workshop to me

Day 7 – See A Gift for a Fellow and Art that Went Straight to my Heart.

Our wonderful workshop in our wood paneled seminar room in
Ascension Hall (photo courtesy of Andrew Sidle)

Here, then, is a photo of our wonderful workshop group.