This one is for my MFA peeps. It was about this time last year that the whining about Star Island began. By “the whining about Star Island began” I mean I started whining about Star Island.
It isn’t the Ritz, but was anything great ever written at the Ritz? (I need to go fact check if Fitzgerald ever wrote at the Ritz). It is, however, beautiful and historic and filled with a gravity that we don’t find often in our every day lives. Following is what I presented for my public reading on the island. If you weren’t there, you won’t get most of it, and that is part of the greatness of the experience. Sequester a bunch of writers on an island and watch the magic.
Here, I offer thoughts on Shutter Island 2011:
Reflections on Star Island, or Who’s snuggling the rat?
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip……
The rickety boat crawled out to sea. Some chipper college coed narrated the trip by pointing out assorted dead shit that we passed.
“On our right is the first naval, penal, leper, chemical warfare testing institution. “
A first semester student puked over the side.
Near the horizon, there were a few lumps of rock; the isles of shoals. Our destination, our home, our classroom…..our penal colony……I mean writer’s colony.
The hotel was okay. I mean okay in a there’s no hot water, your room tilts like a carnival funhouse, and there’s some bitch on the 2nd floor threatening your life if you wake up her bratty ass kid kind of way.
Katie assured us of the history and calm of the island. But… she’s from New York. She finds Detroit peaceful.
So Not Tim forgot mixer.
I settled in and let myself steep in the island’s environment. I roamed the rocky shores, watched the waves crash in a violent froth and…….what is up with that fucking foghorn?!
We ventured out, rowing to a neighboring island. Captain Merle lead the way. Some went seeking experience, knowledge, excitement. Some went in search of a Dunkin Donuts. Still we ventured into that heart of smutty darkness and none left unchanged. No, really, we all had to change because of the seagull shit.
In our time of need we called out for our intrepid adventurer. “Craig,” we called, but…. he was not there. We later learned he was getting a mani pedi after his Cosmo shoot.
We welcomed new faculty members. After the first student faculty mixer, they were caught trying to hotwire a boat. Unfortunately for them, it was a row boat. As they trudged up the hill in defeat, Ann chopped the heads off all the petunias. Diane was heard yelling, “Residency on an island, bitches!”
Still, we read, and we wrote, and we listened, and we talked. We talked about books and words and craft and how fucking cool are Hungarian midgets?
I learned so much……how to query an agent, “So, wanna see my manuscript?”
Turtles…………are delicious in soup! Jason will take all the mashed potatoes. I can find literary gems in my waking thoughts like “Who’s fucking singing?”, or “Huh. That seagull just took a shit.”
I learned that My novel is always half done and writing from a fish perspective is hard.
There are 200 thousand manuscripts in search of a home. Mine is just one more lonely sperm swimming upstream. We need a workshop on touching ourselves. Kim is devious with corn.
Rituals and traditions endured. New ones began. Friendships made and strengthened.
To paraphrase “veni vedi,…… I didn’t study latin”…..we came, we wrote, we whined about it.
Next summer, I’ll be first on the boat back to Shutter island.
Your experience on the island will be great, you’re writing will be better because of it, and you’ll have stories you’ll share with the lifelong friends you make there. When we’re there, remind me to tell you about Jason getting his ass kicked by a seagull and how he screamed like a little girl.