This week marks the closing of one interesting chapter in my life and the opening of another – how appropriate that this transition should coincide with the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. I like it when life comes neatly packaged, and if you wait long enough sometimes it actually obliges. 2011 has been a year of major change. Our only child graduated from high school and disappeared to the East Coast, where he’s studying engineering. There was upheaval in my family back in Scotland. The funding for the position I’ve held at the university for the last four years has come to an end. And after what feels like the longest apprenticeship ever, I’m wrapping up my MFA thesis at last.
Three months ago, I truly didn’t know what 2012 would hold, and what I was going to do with the rest of my life. But I’ve come to believe that change brings opportunity, and eventually that opportunity presented itself. It’s a great privilege to be asked to join the 49 Alaska Writing Center as the new executive director, as it’s an organization for which I have much admiration. Suddenly, my calendar for the next six months is crammed with interesting workshops and events. I’m being introduced to a whole new group of wonderful writers and volunteers, and learning of exciting opportunities to grow our literary network.
Writing is such a solitary pursuit, and writers in our state can experience isolation to a greater degree than anywhere else in the country. The 49 Writers blog and now the writing center have brought this scattered community together in ways which did not seem possible when I first heard about the concept less than two years ago. But I did not yet have the full measure of Andromeda Romano-Lax and Deb Vanasse, the two extraordinary women who created something out of nothing through their vision and commitment. Community takes many forms, and in Alaska I have found my real community in the company – both actual and virtual – of the writing friends I have made over the years, who have sustained me in many ways. Many of you I have yet to meet, and I look forward to connecting with you in the weeks to come.