On motivation by proximity to people who are better than you

*as demonstrated by this super-high-quality-photo-in-the-bar-we-went-to-every-night

I feel I should start by prefacing this by saying that RWW brought with it a huge sense of community, which in writing is soooooo important. Writing is a pretty personal and essentially lonely process. But, good writing? It takes other people. Other minds. Someone that sees what you’re trying to do, catches your references, challenges your ideas, praises you when you deserve it, and all that good stuff. It was easy to do that at RWW because there were something like 50ish students. You have a cohort, made up of all genres, which is basically our freshman class. Our cohort is absolutely wonderful, and we all got along and spent a lot of time together as a large group. This is especially cool considering the variation of age, accomplishment, hometowns, and life experience. We have a retired lawyer, a TV producer, authors of multiple novels, a veteran, lots of other master’s degrees, lots of moms (one expecting, several with grown kids and maybe even grandchildren), all from all over the country and even the world. And that’s just our cohort. We also got to know other cohorts and all of the outstanding faculty. And like, guys. The faculty is so good. And they all seem to be appropriately in awe of each other. And the director is just this wizard that runs around in his Birkenstocks and somehow knows exactly what he needs to know about everyone to make things run smoothly. It’s unreal. The whole thing is just truly unreal.

But there’s also this thing with being surrounded by people of this caliber. It can make you feel all kinds of ways. Like, what am I bringing to this conversation? Why don’t I have more sophisticated taste? Am I too young to be taken seriously? What am I doing with my life anyway? The residency is intellectual overload. It makes you kind of weary at times and can bring out stupid insecurities.

Thankfully, we were there just long enough to start seeing the things about each other that make us layered, dynamic characters. The effortlessly cool poet starts singing Selena Gomez under his breath. The wine moms start dancing. The successful authors confess their insecurities. You bond over mutual tardiness to the same event, your love for the cocktail waitress, every little thing. After the insecurity comes the lovefest. After the lovefest? Motivation. I have never been so ready to get after myself and make stuff happen. I read my first assigned book before I was even back in my home state. I have plans and goals that I’m ready to meet. It’s life changing, what some good motivation can do for you. A breath of fresh air. I’m ready, so don’t stop.

xx, Tab

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