I'm not saying that this conference is like summer camp, but it does definitely have some of the trappings, because you're away from what's familiar, you have to make new friends, you're forced to go through that flashback-to-middle-school ritual every morning as you scour the dining hall for friendly faces, and you spend your days trying to figure out who you are, what matters to you most and how you can get that on the page. At this camp, that's done by writing, reading, listening to smart people, and talking about how to hone your craft.
I have a long to-do list when I return to the regular world. Send out my work more, send writing assignments to Sergio and Molly, get in contact with Kirsten about reading for Origins, find a way to be more active in my literary community, check out those books at the library written by the writers I love as well as those written by the writers they love (following their literary history) memorize a poem every month, read more poetry, work on 750 word humor pieces, find my tribe where I live. Long term goals include beginning a novel for next year's conference, revising and sending out my existing stories as a collection, and specifically, I want to get a piece in Narrative, something on NPR, a story in Tin House, to develop a relationship with a small press that I love, and become Amy Bloom.
I'm so glad I did this, and the fear now is that it will all evaporate, starting on Tuesday afternoon when I get home and need to walk the dog, want to start watching The Wire (that guy gave a talk about writing for the show), begin sifting through my work emails, and again become immersed in the day to day distractions that pull me away from the writing. But I do know that it doesn't happen accidentally--I am the only one who can make the time, I am the one who gets in my own way, and so there are no excuses for not writing.