I went to the winter residency ofFairfield University's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writingthinking it would help me grow as a writer. It did, but it also challenged me. This was a difficult residency, as it meant putting aside a manuscript whose plot was more intricate than I could manage and a genre that isn't my forte. Yet, I learned much during the first semester of the program. One lesson was writing strong female characters, a lesson that spilled over into my personal life as I navigated the rough waters of realizing I needed to begin again.