Sunday, January 09, 2005

A Master of Innkeeping

Many of you don't know this about your innkeeper, but he's also going to graduate school. That's right, in addition to his early morning duties at FedEx, and his round the clock duties at the Auberge, I'm pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College. I know there are readers of this blog who are astonished to learn that I don't already have an Master's in Something, but let me assure you that the M.F.A.-C.W. program at Goddard is not a typical program.
First of all, most of the learning and writing is done through correspondence. That doesn't make Goddard an on-line college. Far from it. The low residency program so prevalent these days was pioneered by Goddard decades ago. At the beginning of each semester students travel to the Plainfield, Vermont campus for 8 days of intensive spiritual, intellectual, and social enlightenment. Workshops, readings, meetings with advisors, all this and a cafeteria run by the New England Culinary Institute make the Goddard experience unique and inspirational.
But why? Why now? Why, when I have so much, would I bother to chase a dream that probably won't make me much money? The short answer is why not? Any writer dreams of exploring his craft, elevating his writing. But the long answer is perhaps more worthy of consideration. It's because being here at Goddard makes me a better person. It changes me the way a character in a Flannery O'Connor short story changes. And because it gives me the chance to someday touch others the way I was touched by writing.
This semester I'm doing a long critical paper, and for a topic I chose to compare the roles of fatherless sons in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and John Irving's The World According to Garp. In John Irving's essay "The King of the Novel" he begins by saying: "Great Expectations is the first novel I read that made me wish I had written it." What captured me was that The World According to Garp was the first novel I read that made me wish I'd written it.
Only Goddard College would let a 40 year old writer/innkeeper set forth something so personal, yet so relevant. And that's why I do what I do. It's kind of the way I think about the Auberge, now that you mention it.