Dispatches from a Writing Residency

Day -1. Go to an old friend’s wedding with DP. Beam uncontrollably during the ceremony, and check to see the lilacs are coming out all around you. Then chat, eat, drink. Eat more, drink more, toast the happy couple. Then drive two hours. Thank your lucky stars you married a man who didn’t mind driving you places at night. Stay at a nice old inn a little too close to a bar.

Morning 0. Wake up, eat, kiss your husband goodbye and travel to your residency. Try not to feel guilty at the relief you feel about going to the residency. You still love your spouse; you just also love your writing. Take a variety of modes of transportation to end up at your final destination.

You’ve been here before. Find your room, put down your bags, burst into tears.

Day 1. Unpack, calm down, meet your fellow writers. They are not as horrid as you thought they would be. In fact they seem really nice and down to earth. Eat with them, have a cup of coffee, observe the sun. Then collectively agree that you should probably get back to work.

Lesson 1. Writing is a mind game. Residencies are a mind game. One of the times I was at this particular residency it became a mind game for real. Fortunately I was not one of the principles involved, but I was a little bit gun shy this time.

I have no social obligations other than to be polite when I choose to see people. If and when I choose to see people is entirely up to me. I am here to write. The only mind game I’m playing is to do whatever I can to keep writing.

How do you keep writing?



10 responses to “Dispatches from a Writing Residency

  1. As much as I love writing, I have to say sometimes it is a chore. Like most things I don’t want to do at a particular moment, once I get into it, I am always happy I did.


  2. While making breakfast this morning, I had an imaginary argument with the doctor who will surely try to prescribe an antidepressant for me in the near future. If it turns out that I’m in for another bout of breast cancer (making appointments for tests and exams tomorrow), I want to be able to write down my anger, my lows, and any high I’m able to experience in between. In my experience, doctors really hate tears (or are scared of them), but flattening out on medication, for me, plants me firmly between the bottom and the middle, meaning constant depression and no get up and go, no writing, not even editing. I want to keep writing this time, and keep talking to my friends, so this is my plan: to stick out my chin and stick up for myself while figuring it all out. I want to be loud this time.

    • Sparks, good for you for sticking up for yourself!! But I also want to say from my own experience that antidepressants do not necessarily make you flat. You had the wrong med or the wrong dose last time! I write more on my antidepressant than not on it because I don’t get caught up in a downward spiral.

      I do not pray, but I am thinking really good thoughts about you and the tests and exams and send you strength and love! Let me know how it all goes. I’m on your side.

  3. I have to say that I think a writing residency would be wasted on me. I’m not disciplined enuf to use the time wisely. I’ve tried to take weekend residencies at my little Ozark cabin, but I can only sustain the creativity for a few hours (also, no electricity).

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