Write your little fucking heart out

When I was thirty nothing, I went on my first writing residency. I left DP a mere month after I had met him to spend a month in [place redacted] in an apartment in the Midwest. Every day I sat at a plain desk, watching the Midwestern weather get caught in the trees and a bunch of elementary school kids playing soccer, and wrote. I spent nights reading schlock fiction other writers left behind and cooing on the phone to DP.

Since then I have been to two other residencies, one of them more than once. I can’t recommend writing residencies highly enough. You get to meet awesome and strange people who just want to talk about writing. You get a bunch of time to write. Sometimes they feed you. You can imagine the conversations writers get into after a couple glasses of wine.

If you run into writers while you’re in the kitchen making a PB and J (because who wants to expend effort cooking when you can write?), your cohorts will ask you how the writing is going. They will have good writing days and bad writing days. They will encourage you when you think everything you write sucks and will gently scold you to get back to work.

All that time. It’s just you and the page. It’s scary as fuck. One of the best things that someone told me before going to a writing residency was that even if I wrote nothing but shit for all of the 30 days, that was 30 days of shit I’d gotten out of the way. My second residency was soon after I moved in with DP. I admit, I was pathetic. I pined. I stared at the (many more) trees outside my window. I slept a lot. I cried. I felt like I didn’t get any writing done. And yet, I wrote a series poem that is now the cornerstone of my manuscript.

I used to want to go to the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, but now that I’m no longer quite so footloose and fancy-free, it’s way too much time away from my home. Some places have very little Internet. I looked at this one recently. Talk about being alone with the page. Holy shit. Five weeks without the Internet? I would either die or get a shit-ton of work done.

One of my editing clients is going to Ireland on the strength of her own work and a little tweaking/talking through by her copyeditor. I’m so excited for her. Does it sound like heaven? Here and here are good places to start looking. Maybe one of these days I’ll meet you here.

Have you ever done a residency? Do you do home-grown retreats?

Advertisements

9 responses to “Write your little fucking heart out

  1. We have a cottage in the woods of Finland. It’s so isolated it feels like I’m on the edge of the earth when I’m there alone. Wind and trees and the occasional bird or squirrel. Nothing else. I swing between disconcerted and free, sometimes writing like a maniac, sometimes curling up by the fireplace and wondering ‘what the hell was that?’

  2. I’ve spent several week-long retreats at my sister’s cabin in the woods of southern Utah, and they were wonderful. I’d love to do one again in the Seattle area.

  3. . . . even if I wrote nothing but shit for all of the 30 days, that was 30 days of shit I’d gotten out of the way.

    So THAT’S what I’ve been doing all this time?

    I wish I could do a residency . . . someday. However, I’ve been writing a lot on this vacation, so there’s something to be said for no Internet.

    (sent from an Internet Cafe, with 5 minutes left on my time!)

  4. Seven to thirty days to do nothing but write?
    I write so much now, with a full time job and a husband who falls asleep when Pat and Vanna show up, that if I had all that time I’d turn out a quadra-trilogy, (okay so I made that word up), on the merits of love in the time of AARP.

  5. Last October I spent a week writing at a health spa that once counted Oprah as a guest. It. Was. Awesome. I got so much writing and relaxing done. Even the super-health, low-calorie food wore off on me. Writers in the Heartland — look it up if you don’t already know about it. Completely worthwhile experience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s