|A mess of writing stuff. Photo by Tameca L Coleman|
I don't know if it is highfalutin, but a couple people have asked me to post it (that's only a little bit weird...but I still love you anyway):
Essay for Application of Admission to Regis
In my mid-twenties, I thought I was going to completely give up on writing. There were many reasons for that. For one, the way seemed hard. So many friends I thought were doing well told me this. Many of those friends have stopped writing, committing their work to boxes in their closets or hard drives. Some of that writing has been shredded, burned, or deleted – forgotten, in any case and relegated to the past.
I wasn't sure if any of my writing was any good. Sure, I'd been encouraged by my school teachers from grade school through graduation, but by the time I was twenty five, I hadn't much more to show for my writing than my own files chock full of juvenelia.
I had no interest at the time of going back to college (I had been cut from a music program because I “didn't fit in socially”) but the idea of higher education kept eating away at me. Maybe this is what finally prompted me to step foot into the Log Cabin Literary Center (now called The Cabin) in Boise, Idaho. It was a nice compromise and it began to fulfill this craving of wanting to be a part of a group of practicing writers who were creating, publishing, and talking shop with other writers.
At the The Cabin, I met many talented and accomplished writers like Annie Proulx, G.E. Patterson, Dagoberto Gilb and Janet Holmes. The Cabin hosted intimate writing workshops with these writers, and of course weekly workshops with a local community of writers who were at multiple levels of seriousness and experience. I loved this group, so I decided to register for The Cabin's writing retreat that summer for a more intensive experience.
There I met many more writers. I remember sitting at a dinner table with Robert Wrigley, his wife Kim Barnes, Lance Olsen, Joy Passanante, Billy Collins and others. I was mostly silent because there was all of this experience around me. I silently made a promise to myself that the next time I sat at a table full of accomplished writers like that, I would be one of them. I wanted so badly to be an equal rather than just a student (though, we are always students, I've grown to realize).
Since then, I've moved to Denver, a place where I have met many more writers in many different genres, many of whom I regard highly. I've gone to some conventions, picked brains, finished an undergrad where poetry and linguistics were my focus. I have even published a little, and some of my income is generated by writing news content, ghostwriting, website and pamphlet content creation and at times, coaching people how to write better. I feel that this is pretty good success but it doesn't necessarily allow me the time to devote to some of the ideas I want to explore in poetry, fiction, music, and whatever genre might fit.
I work with a couple of pieces of advice at the forefront of my mind. During my undergrad, a literature professor told us that we should all try to write everything, even if we fail miserably. I think that is how I found myself writing news. The opportunity came up and I thought, “Why not? I get paid to write and I can learn as I go.”
The other piece of advice came from Robert Wrigley at The Cabin retreat way back when. I had signed up for a one on one session with him. I needed to find out if I had any potential in writing poetry. He looked at my poems, which mostly were poems I'd written in junior high school, and he was very encouraging, very positive. I asked him about college, and he admitted that it's not for everyone. He also said “You go to school for short cuts and community.” ← This made more sense to me than anything anyone else had ever said to me about college. It was honest and has stuck with me ever since.
I have a foot in many worlds and I have friends at multiple levels of seriousness and experience in those worlds. I'm always looking for the community, and to be a positive force in that community. I want to be able to promote that community and the work that is coming from it. That's why conversations I have had with staff at Regis mean so much to me. It is apparent that the program's focus is to build and maintain community, not just for one graduating class or even within the program, but more broadly. I want to be a part of that!