I’m a little late, but it’s about time I talked about the residency I just attended at SHU. Months ago, when I was trying to decide if I wanted to apply to the writing popular fiction program, I looked all over for descriptions of residency experiences, and while I found many posts and pictures, none of them went into the detail I wanted. So with that in mind, I’m going to try to provide the detail I wanted back then. At least for this residency – after this, who knows? :)

Let’s start off with pictures. I didn’t take any. I had the best intentions – took my camera, carried it in my purse every day – but I’m not used to whipping my camera out, and as a result, I didn’t. Luckily, other people have posted pictures. There are some nice ones Anne Harris posted, for instance.

The first day – or actually, let’s call it “day zero” – we had a reception scheduled at 7pm. I planned to fly in, get my rental car, and drive out to Greensburg, check in at my hotel, freshen up, and head on over to campus. What do they say about the best-laid plans?

I made a mistake. Unfortunately, it bit me in the butt coming and going. (Ahem.) I assumed Greensburg was about half an hour and no more than an hour from the airport. I knew you could purchase a ride on a shuttle going out to Greensburg, and just assumed the shuttles wouldn’t go more than 30-60 minutes away.

Oh, boy, was I wrong.

My first clue was when I plotted my route on mapquest and it told me it would take an hour and 9 minutes to get to the hotel. I still didn’t think that was too bad, though. My flight landed early, and I had no problems getting the rental car. I drove out into Pittsburgh at 5pm, with a comfortable 2 hours to get to Greensburg and then over to campus… and hit rush hour.

And sat.

And sat, and sat some more.

When I finally rolled into Greensburg, it was about 6:40. Problem was, I couldn’t reach my hotel. I could see it, up on the hill, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there, and my mapquest directions failed me. So I tried a few things and was about to give up and drive straight to campus when I found the right road.

I rushed into the hotel lobby at 6:50, waited while the guy finished with another visitor and then checked me in. I didn’t bother taking my luggage to my room, even though I sorely wanted to freshen up, and already needed to go to the bathroom. At 6:57 I walked back out into the parking lot to drive to campus, knowing that even in the best case scenario I was going to be late. And I really, really didn’t want to start off my very first residency by being late. But mapquest said it took 7 minutes to get from the hotel to campus, and I didn’t think I could shave that down to 3.

So of course I got lost. It was dark, I didn’t know the area, and I missed a sign or two. (I found out later I wasn’t the only newbie who got lost, which made me feel much better.) I did manage to find the campus, find the right parking lot, find the library, and hurry inside at 7:15.

As I walked by the large windows of the library, I saw a bunch of people sitting in chairs. They seemed to be milling a little bit, but settling down. I walked in and sat down in the first chair I saw, and about 15 seconds later, Lee McClain started her presentation. Phew!

Turns out I missed the reception part of it completely – they’d had food and drinks and whatnot. I was just so grateful I walked in before Lee started talking instead of after.

She gave an inspiring opening talk, and then people had announcements. Afterwards, Heidi very nicely led us newbies on a tour of campus, which helped me a lot. Then I finally went back to my hotel and went to bed. I knew I was facing a lot of long days and wanted to start off with as much energy and sleep as I possibly could.

Next up: day 1! :)