back among my people

This summer’s end marked the end of my time at Hollins University.

Third summer’s the charm, and boy, was it a doozy. Happy and eager to be “back among my people,” I went all in. I workshopped and started revisions for my current Work-in-Progress. I began a new project: a chapter book about a girl gone airborne. I co-chaired the annual student-run Francelia Butler Conference. I tutored my peers and helped edit their critical papers. I wined and dined with Jack Zipes. I strolled the Loop with friends, watched fireflies rise from the darkening grass, and admired the silhouettes of deer grazing on the hillside at sunset. Despite the stress, despite piling too much on my platter, despite the tears and doubt and occasional mental paralysis….

….Hollins never failed to work its magic.

I stumbled across Hollins by sheer luck. Torn between pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and becoming a children’s librarian, I discovered the possibility of earning an MFA in Children’s Literature. While other schools offered the same degree, there was just something about Hollins. A mere month out of college, I flew to southern Virginia and began my graduate education without ever having seen or explored the drowsy, enchanted Roanoke campus.

I took a chance. I dove in with both feet.

And it paid off in ways I had never dared to imagine.

I am a part of a nurturing, lasting community of writers. I have friendships that span the country (and a continent or two). I have peers with whom I can exchange unending encouragement, support, and the occasional dose of tough love. I have a mentor and advocate who believes wholeheartedly in me and my work. After twenty-six years, I have finally found them: my people.

No more enchanted summers, alas, but I will always carry the memories and maintain the ties that bind us. Onward to the next chapter in my writing journey. Wherever it takes me, I will never let go of the magic I found at Hollins.