Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
A loaf of bread, a glass of wine and thou beside me singing in the wildernessBeen here at Bread Loaf for over a week now, and have finally found time to blog. Today is our day off, midway between arrival and exhaustion.
Though I visited Bread Loaf last year, my experience this year has been wholly different. First, last year I was a "contributor," or paying student staying almost off campus, at the Homer Noble Farmhouse (Robert Frost's winter residence). This year, I'm on staff (you may call me Queen Christina, Bookstore Maven), and living in the Inn, right in the center of campus. Last year, I had a buddy -- Sarah came up with me, and we roomed together. This year, I'm rooming with a former waiter (scholarship student) and PhD candidate from Houston, who is also on staff.
The greater amount of responsibility has left me less time for all the events. My priorities last year were to wring every bit of information I could out of Bread Loaf, while this year I'm pacing myself more slowly. My current priorities are preparing for our workshop and making my bookstore hours, while squeezing in a few readings and craft classes.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Writer's Conference, a little backstory. Bread Loaf was willed to Middlebury College by was willed to Middlebury College in 1915 by Joseph Batell. This year marks the 80th anniversary of Bread Loaf's Writer's Conference. The conference was popularized by Robert Frost, who stayed in his cabin here in the Green Mountain National Forest until his death in 1963.
In the 1970's and early 1980's, the conference acquired a wild and free reputation; the modern definition of "Bed Loaf," however, is getting a nap between events. They do keep you running.
9:00 Open Lecture
10:00 Workshop (alternating days for Fiction and Non-fiction/Poetry)
2:30 Craft Classes (Optional)
4:15 Special talk, panel discussions, or reading
5:30 Blue parlor reading, special talk, or social hour
8:00 Faculty Reading
9:30 Staff/Scholar/Waiter Readings, or Socials
Add in four work hours a day, and you see why I've been missing too many fun things.
Working in the bookstore is a blast. Though the first few days were hectic -- putting up books and labels, learning to use the register and credit card machine -- the job has been rewarding. Not only do I get to meet and greet everyone, I get to read book jacket blurbs in the quiet moments, and have learned new, saleable skills that my MFA didn't give me. Somehow, I've never "done retail." All new experience adds value to my writing: it's all material.
This year, too, differs from last year in that Jon was able to come up for a couple of days. He rented the smallest motel room ever, where we've been cozying up for the last couple of nights. He's been seen around campus, mostly in the library playing on the Internet (another improvement to Bread Loaf is the expansion of the wireless network. So far, Jon's attended a reading, helped me out in the bookstore, partied at the Faculty/Staff social, and danced two whole dances at Bread Loaf's first Barn Dance. In his free time (when I'm off at classes), he's been in the library, reading.
All in all, it's been a fun time. I plan to post more specifics soon.
Interesting new writers I've met, with books out (as opposed to all the interesting unpublished writers I've met):
Doreen Baingana (Ok, I've known Doreen for a while, but she's here again.)
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