I’m so glad that I chose to do Hindman in person. I was worn out by the end of the week, and some kind of bug bit the crap out of my upper lip on Tuesday night — but it made such a difference to get to be there in person. Approximately 35 of us, plus 5 staff members, were on-campus this year. Although small in numbers, the feeling of camaraderie swelled to capacity, as always.

I loved being able to audit two classes in addition to the class I had gotten into for this year. I audited daily with George Ella Lyon (Poetry) and Robert Gipe (Novel). I would have loved to have audited Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle’s Novel class, too, but I did need to go to my Nonfiction class in the afternoons, lol. My manuscript for Nonfiction is a piece in what will eventually be my book about our UK & European travels in the Summer of 2013, and I tentatively entitled the piece “Chasing After Rainbows,” which is what I plan on calling the larger work. Mine was the last piece workshopped in class, and it seemed to go over well. By the end of the week, Russ had his own fan club amongst my classmates — I did some damage to Rupert backing down the hill beside Stucky the day we arrived, and crushed the wiper washer fluid reservoir — and he drove all the way over and back on his day off to check it out, to make sure that I would be able to drive safely to come home late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Plus he had set up the pieces for class in a notebook for me after printing them out for me. And add to that his overall awesomeness in the story that I wrote — it all had the ladies asking if he had a brother or good friend, lol!

We had amazing afternoon speakers all week, including poetry with the great Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, the phenomenal Gurney Norman reading “Fat Monroe,” a really interesting and helpful session with the ever-giving Silas House and his literary agent Joy Harris, and Food Writing with the fantabulous Ouita Michel.

Friday night’s Keynote Address with Adriana Trigiani completely inspired me! Her words are so powerful! Knowing that we have an advocate like her in our corner really makes getting pen to paper seem more doable on the mornings when I don’t want to get out of bed!

Later on Friday night, those of us on-campus circled up outside of the Mullins Center to read “The Brier’s Sermon” by Jim Wayne Miller, by candlelight. This has always been one of my favorite parts of Hindman. The admonition, “You MUST Be Born Again!” It never ceases to make me cry. Then we sang, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” I stood between Robert Gipe and Matthew Kingesly, two of my favorite people. I clung to every moment possible that night. Hindman at nearly-50 felt so dear to me this year, compared to how Hindman felt the first time, 11 years ago… I continue to be thankful for the writers and writer-friends and writing I have been introduced to there. I continue to be grateful for the opportunities that have come my way as a result of getting to be there. I’m already thinking about next year, and think that I just might submit in a category I’ve never submitted in. Time will tell. But the first Friday of May will be here before you know it. Manuscripts must be ready. You MUST be born again!