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The Writer's Life

Missing Whidbey

Last week I finished reading final papers from the class for which I’ve been an assistant teacher. The semester marks the fifth I’ve been associated with the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts on Whidbey Island in Washington—four as a master’s student and one as TA.

I realized that with the end of the term, my communications with the faculty and students will lessen significantly. No more need to check the discussion boards each day. No assignments to complete, or prepare. And since NILA is primarily an online educational experience (one ten-day in-person residency per semester), I won’t be seeing the great people I met there too often, since the distance is great, and the cost of the residency is, right now, hard to justify.

Writers everywhere lament that their profession is one of the loneliest, with long hours spent in solitude just thinking and writing, not interacting with other people. The experience has not been so bad for me, because I’ve always had my involvement with the school to ease those moments when the writing mind needs a break.

I will still have the online alumni forum linking me to classmates and mentors, but I will miss the experiences of talking literary theory and sharing the pleasures and frustrations of the writing life in the classroom setting. Of course I have my local writers group, but for a writer, diminishing relationships with other writers is always hard to bear.

Moving forward, writing will become more of the kind of singular pursuit other writers have mentioned.


About Joe Ponepinto

Co-publisher, with Kelly Davio, of Tahoma Literary Review. Author of "Curtain Calls," a featured Kirkus Review. Married to Dona. Dad to Henry, the coffee-drinkin' dog.


2 thoughts on “Missing Whidbey

  1. I’m feeling this just over winter break. I’m starting and attempting to finish a first draft of an essay before the 23rd, some completely arbitrary deadline I’ve set for myself—and I find my mind keeps asking for some justification for writing. If there is no grade, no workshop, then what? Art? Wahhhttt? Just writing for the sake of writing?

    It’s quite hard for a certain part of my brain to grasp. I blogged a bit about it here — but nothing epic, nothing worth reading if you aren’t bored, or finding things to do while you are supposed to be writing…

    Posted by John Gilmore | December 21, 2009, 6:44 AM
  2. Well John, there’s always money, fame and the attention of throngs of beautiful women. Sure, they’re not as satisfying as a good old 4.0, but still…. (Not that’d know that from personal knowledge, of course.)

    Posted by jonzech | January 2, 2010, 10:19 PM

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