Post-Conference Wrap Up, a Poem, and the Necessity of Taking a Break

First, the poem: Epiphenomenon by Karen Skolfield.

I'm still in recovery from the 12 days of the Southampton Writers Conference. It was a useful experience and I learned a lot about theater and the way playwrights work and how actors approach plays . . . and I enjoyed many of the readings and panel sessions (which doesn't always happen in these things, as you don't really have choices about the events you attend)  . . . but oh my god, I'm exhausted now. More so than in past years when I've attended the same conference. It's either because the Three Kid System is far more difficult than I thought, or I'm getting really old. Maybe it's both.

Maybe, also, it's because I know I have so much work to do before I finish my verse play -- in terms of revision, and as I construct the next two acts. The prospect of all that work, at this point, is a little tiring, even though I usually find writing pretty energizing. I guess the stress of the past few weeks has just taken a toll. At the very least, though, I leave the conference with a solid 20 pages of the play, a "complete" first act, and I have a good idea of what I must do -- there will be far less groping in the dark now, I think (I hope). I know this has been a good challenge, and that I'm learning a lot through this process and creating something that, eventually, will be pretty cool  . . . but good lord, I'm tired. I haven't been able to think about writing for the past few days. Actually, I thought about writing, about working on the play, and then I decided to write this post instead. A kind of compromise.

This week I'm trying to salvage my house, which kind of fell apart during the two weeks I took this class, as well as to reintroduce my children to the idea that they have a mother: 
"Who's looking after us today?"
"Ummm . . . me?"
[Crickets chirp]
Then next week we're going camping, and I look forward to being mostly absent from technology for a full five days. I might write a little, but I'll probably do more reading than writing. And you know, hanging out with those kids! I'd say 'my husband,' too, but he'll probably disappear into some old-time music circle and I won't see him for 72 hours . . . but that's one of the reasons we go camping at this particular festival  . . . so that he has, finally, other people to play with. I am not a good, or reliable, fellow musician.

Little Miss Talkalot is bringing her violin for the first time to the festival, and I'm excited for her. She's excited about the prospect of learning fiddle and getting to play with the adults. 

This weekend I'm supposed to attend and read with other authors from Hyacinth Girl Press as part of the New York City Poetry Festival. I hope I get more excited about it soon, because it seems like a really cool event. Right now, though, the thought of traveling to Governor's Island on a Sunday makes me more tired. Especially because as soon as I get there, I have to turn around and come back.  (I've really pushed the limits of our caregivers with babysitting needs this month.)

I need a break, from both school-related tasks and writing-related tasks. I finished teaching that summer class and then jumped almost immediately into a really intense period of writing, and while both were good and productive, I feel burnt out. And now, honestly, I'm not sure I'm going to get the kind of break I need. Camping will be a brief break, but I know that camping with three kids (one of whom is Vampire Toddler) won't exactly be peaceful. Fun, but not especially restorative, you know? And then I'm going to try spending a few days in Virginia, adoring my fabulous new niece (I'm an aunt for the first time, y'all!) -- but I have a feeling that I'll be fielding a slew of emails from the union about incoming members as the new academic year approaches. And, as precedent has taught me, a couple from the bookstore about their incompetent nincompoopery.

Anyway. I'll try to be optimistic. And less grumbly. Which should, fingers crossed, make for more interesting blog posts.


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