I am afraid of flying. So four years ago today, my friend Dot and I got into my car, and started the drive to San Diego, and Clarion.
My little silver Beetle was packed: two women, a coffeemaker, clothing, books, a bag of swords (as you do). We had a playlist, helpfully crowdsourced from my soon-to-be classmates. We played shag/marry/kill with literary characters and she deployed her Miniskirt of Power when my car broke down somewhere in Arizona.
I had no idea what I was getting in to.
I thought I was going to learn how to write. Turns out, I was going to learn who I was. If you had told me then that in four years I would have had a story read on NPR, or selected for a Year's Best, that I'd have a kickass agent, or that I would be involved in creating a dance, I never would have believed you. I wouldn't have believed a lot of things that have happened in the interim. I'm grateful for them all.
The four years feels important. That's high school, or college. It feels like I've been in an apprenticeship of sorts, though I've had more than one teacher, more than one mentor, and they are people I will continue to turn to.
I don't feel like I'm done learning to write. I hope that I'll never be done trying to be a better writer. But I have a quiet sense of accomplishment today, and my Clarionmates, my teachers, I miss you. I love you. Tonight, I raise my glass, and toss my paper crown in the air in our honor.