I arrived on the University of Georgia campus with a steadily growing to-do list.
Pick up paper towels. Run to Target. Try to go to bed early. Check my work e-mail in case of an emergency.
I had just driven 90 minutes from midtown Atlanta to downtown Athens. I work full-time as a TV reporter but this past August began a 2 ½-year MFA program in narrative nonfiction at UGA’s Grady School of Journalism. Each semester kicks off with a mandatory weeklong residency on-campus; this past Sunday, we all converged on campus from across the country. The program directors threw us a welcome dinner, and on the walk back, I asked a classmate about his plans for the night. He said he would head to the hotel bar and hang out as late as anyone wanted.
Not me. I planned to make my Target run and retreat to my room for a hopeful eight hours of sleep.
My classmate shook off that idea. He heralded the week as a chance for us hungry writers to revel together in our ambitions, to encourage and inspire each other. He closed with a line that would flatter any hopeful Hemingway: “This is like Paris in the Twenties!”
I needed to hear that … because my first semester felt like Times Square at rush hour.