Ready or not: residency!

Tomorrow I leave home to attend a writers residency. I’m lucky to have this opportunity — four weeks in a beautiful place where I’m put up and fed and allowed to work. I’m grateful for the solitude and the time I’ll have there as well as for the support of my spouse and kids, who’ll be spending the rest of their summer without me. God, am I going to miss them.

Today I’m packing. I’ve probably given more thought to the books I’m taking than to clothes. Here’s my portable library for the next five weeks:

  • By way of reference: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
  • Ditto: The Journal of Jean-François de Galaup de La Pérouse, volumes 1 & 2
  • Bedtime reading: War and Peace. (I’m on page 766; the Russians have just won a decisive battle, but I think one of the main characters died in it — clearly, I can’t leave the book at home!)
  • Book club reading: Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk
  • Poetry: The Best of It by Kay Ryan
  • Non-fiction: The Art of the Personal Essay, ed. Phillip Lopate
  • Lit journal: Tin House summer 2010 issue
  • Don’t laugh: Meditation for Dummies. Fine. Go ahead and laugh.

Of course I’ll have other baggage with me. Also coming along:

  1. Excitement: About seeing old friends on the way. About making some serious, end-of-the-tunnel-in-sight-type progress on my La Pérouse project. About meeting the other residents there, some of whom are amazing, prominent people I admire.
  2. Anxiety: About the long solo drive up there. About leaving my family for so long. About not getting enough work done while I’m away. About the work I do get done not being good enough.
  3. Guilt: I don’t even have to pack this. It’s a built-in. (Thank you, Calvinist upbringing!)
  4. A case of wine: Some of it’s to give to friends who’ll be putting me up en route. The rest is to help with Items 1 through 3.

I probably won’t be blogging while I’m gone, but promise to post a report when I return.

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