Monday, March 2, 2009

Week One Report from VCCA

While on my residency, I’m working on a new novel, living in that wretched first draft stage where everything seems bad but needs to get slapped down on paper anyway. The real fun (for me) comes later, when I get to revise all the crap into something readable. But for now, it’s just plugging away. Another novelist referred to our daily life here as “plowing another field, hoping something will grow.”

I feel compelled to offer a report on the food, though it’s not nearly as exciting as my food situation down at Converse College back in January. In short, dinners can be delicious and inspired (chicken curry! gumbo!), breakfasts are rote, and lunches border on bleak (I’ve never seen salami that looks like that, and I brought back a mini-package of Ritz crackers to my studio and happened to catch the expiration date…December 3, 2008). But—as I remind myself—I didn’t have to think about food, shop for it, cook it, or clean up after it…so no complaints here. I’ll survive.

I love the luxury of reading, and reading several different books at once for different purposes. Here’s what I’ve got going now:
--The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley, because I always like to read one or several short story masters while I’m at a colony.
--Polish-American poetry—an anthology edited by John Minczeski called Concert at Chopin’s House and Amber Necklace from Gdansk by Lina Nemec Foster –to keep my mind in the Polish experience for my novel.
--Some historical books for research.
--A couple writing books: Naming the World edited by Bret Anthony Johnston and Richard Goodman’s lovely The Soul of Creative Writing
--And, before going to bed, for “fun”—Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates, which is masterful, and may be the next book I try to force upon everyone. (I can’t believe I read this once before and didn’t appreciate it—I must have had a hole in my head. Literally, there is no possible explanation for my not loving this book.)
--I’ve also got a giant stack of New Yorkers that piled up while I was away in January, and a stack of literary journals I collected/bought during AWP.

For more information about VCCA, check out their website:


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.