The studio is all packed up, empty corkboard, empty shelves. Suitcase once again filled to bursting with books and writing. My shoes are leaving some final evidence as the slush from my boots melts into the carpet.
Eighteen writing studios in this building all lined up and facing the river, watching the meditative, steady rolling. This morning the ground is thick with snow and sleet we received all day yesterday. A gray day today, but we’ve had a mixture of skies the past few weeks: blue, grey, white, cloud-spotted, stormy.
Almost every day from 6:30am-ish to 7:30, 9am-12pm, 1-6pm, and maybe an hour or more after dinner, I would come to this office, open the blinds, turn on my computer and start writing. We’ll say 10 hours a day of writing or reading at the maximum. Take away 10 hours a week for work-study, and I’d say I spent 100 hours total in the past two weeks sitting in one of these two chairs. Of course, nap time in the plush chair is still “working” time—you know, thoughts turning into language when you wake up, rested and such… It’s a small simple room, but for two weeks this room, “the Grace Paley Studio” has been all mine. Like little worker bees, we’ve all been here at various times of the day and night working on our projects. We’d see the artists across the river with their studio lights on, worker bees in oils, acrylics, watercolors.
Yesterday was an incredibly productive last day. I went to Life Drawing one last time for an hour, watching Connie and Pirjo sketch and paint long poses. Then, I came back to the studio and churned out revisions, typed up new poems from my journal that hadn’t yet made it to the computer, and began putting together my genealogy manuscript. Eamon really lit a fire under me, giving me confidence in the direction I’m going. So, this morning and afternoon was well-spent organizing poems and straightening up my binders with revisions and drafts.
Then, at 5pm, slowly dismantling the office, waiting until the last minute to take down the photos, the poem character titles, and the poems I’d revised since being here. A sad moment of dismantling, but yet I know I will reassemble this board at home for inspiration. The key gift of this residency will be giving me the spark to keep up the work back at home.
The day was full of good-byes. Some month-long people were heading out for weekend excursions, so hugs, exchange of business cards, and promises to keep in touch, to visit each other in St. Louis, London, Maine, and elsewhere. I think I’m used to good-byes with all my traveling, but I do believe in keeping in touch, and nourishing important friendships.
Then, in the evening, all the writers gathered in Mason House for an informal reading salon. We sat around the electric fire and each read something. Only six of the ten of us read the other night, so there were new people to hear from. We listened to beautifully crafted short stories, novel excerpt, poetry, and we watched a short film from our screenwriter. It was the perfect way to end our last night, with almost three hours of conversation, laughter, and the fruits of our hard studio labor. They are all excellent writers, and I only hope we get to see their final works after these two weeks—though if they are like us, we’re going home with much done but much still to do.
So, here ends my time in Vermont, in Maverick Studio #4. It’s time to heave these suitcases through the sludge to breakfast where a new round of good-byes will begin. For now, it’s time to leave this fruitful place and return to a home I love, and friends and family eager to hear our stories.