It’s the weekend before leaving for the writer’s residency and I’m starting to feel both excited and nervous. It’s been 9 years since I attended my first (and only, until now) residency. I went to the Vermont Studio Center for the month of January 2013. Ruby was a six-month old puppy back then and I’d only owned her for a few months, so I decided to bring her with me and put her up at a local daycare. I managed to write a few posts about the whole experience here and here. Then there was this post about my front tooth becoming “dislodged” mid-residency. A reminder that anything can happen.
Ironically, what came out of that residency was less about my writing at the time, and everything to do with my life. There is a direct link between my time in Vermont, my first time living in the rural Northeast and first taste of the “writer’s life,” and my decision to leave Los Angeles and move to New York. It took me a year and a half to make it happen, but that was my goal – to live in a quieter place and to write full-time. It was the first real clarity I’d had since Kaz had died nearly two years earlier.
So much has happened since then.
Today I live in my own house in a small town not far from the new residency location. I also happily write full-time (though still struggle financially). I’m very familiar with both the country life and the writer’s life. One might wonder, why even go on a residency? Why is it necessary to uproot yourself and live without your dog for 4 weeks?
All I can say is that life can be extremely distracting, and sometimes it’s good to hit the re-set button.
I’m looking forward to having less distractions, to not having to grocery shop, or cook every night, or really go anywhere. My only daily responsibility will be to keep my space tidy, do my own laundry (on site), and occasionally cook for the other residents, since the chef is only there Monday-Friday. Of course, I will miss my dog (terribly!) but not having her around will also be less distraction (and I know she’ll be in good hands with a relative).
I’m looking forward to being energized and inspired by a new location, to meeting new people, to exploring and indulging my curiosity away from the hustle and bustle of every day life, albeit in a small town. There’s something to be said about being away from your “normal” life and normal you.
At this point, there are only two things that are potential worries. I’m worried about the bed being comfortable and my ability to sleep well. I also wonder who the other five artists (that I’ll be spending these 4 weeks with) will be and if we’ll all get a long. Chances are we will, but one doesn’t really know for sure until it happens.
In the meantime, I’m in the midst of preparing to leave – and preparing to work. I did end up getting the notes I wanted and needed on my feature screenplay, so I know what I need to do for that project. I also plan on writing the first draft of a television pilot, as well as several essays. In fact, I have a long list of things I want to accomplish at the residency.
This morning I walked with a good friend who’s also a pretty well known artist – she is the one who inspired me to start applying to things again. She’s been on many residencies throughout her career, and her advice was simple:
Go at your own pace. Work hard but also give yourself room to experience, be in the moment, and follow the muse. Get to know the other artists. You might make great friends, you might not. Go for long walks and enjoy this special time.
I’m excited for the adventure. And proud of myself for taking my craft seriously enough to devote this time. I know it will be fruitful in one way or another.
The most important thing is that I remain open to the experience and listen to my intuition.
Happy creating, everyone.