By the time the stars aligned for me to come to Civitella (two years after being invited), the narrative nonfiction project I’d planned to work on had gone kaput. What, then, to do with these six unfettered weeks? Take a leap, I decided: experiment with fiction after decades of resolutely operating within documentable fact. In the gloriously free space that the residency allowed, I read as many examples of the craft as I could pull from the library shelves and forced myself to plunge into the unfamiliar every day, ending up (thank goodness) with several short stories I’ll continue to work on at home. The chance to reframe the question I ask myself always in my work — What to do I want (need) to say? — was challenging, invigorating, and trailblazing.