The January residency for the MFA in Writing for Children at Hamline has been over for a few weeks now, but I’m just starting my stint as a blogger, so I’d like to rewind the clock to the morning after graduation. That Monday morning, my daughter Amelia picked me up at the hotel where faculty and students stayed, and we drove my somewhat-rattletrap car up north about five hours to pick up my other daughter Ellen’s somewhat-more-rattletrap car and drive it back to Minneapolis.
Ellen won’t need the car for a few months. She and three other people will be skiing and dogsledding through the Northwest Territories as part of a wilderness classroom trip. Amelia and I had planned to drive up, get the car, and drive back all in the same day. I ended up staying the night, helping sew a last few items for the trip, clean up the house where they had been staying, and load Ellen’s car with recycling and a few things that will live at my house until she returns from the north.
As we were tidying up, I thought about how we send our graduates at Hamline off with good wishes for themselves and their writing, and I thought these brave and adventurous travelers needed a benediction, too. I scribbled on a scrap of paper: Travel well. Be kind to each other. Stay safe. Bring back stories. I gave Ellen that scrap of paper before they left—it doesn’t weigh enough to slow them down, and perhaps the words will warm her in the way-below-zero temperatures through which they’ll travel. At the very least, the paper may help to start a fire when they need one.
When writers sit down to write, we are also brave adventurers setting off into unknown territory. (After all, if you know the territory, why go there?) So I wish for each of us as we write another sort of benediction: Write well. Be kind to yourself. Don’t stay too safe. Bring back stories.