What’s a writing residency?
A writing residency is time spent away from home, where a writer can focus entirely on their work. For me, that means none of my usual distractions as family chauffeur, dog-walker, and worrier-in-chief.
I have the chance to spend four weeks at Vermont Studio Center, a residency for writers and visual artists in northern Vermont.
VSC is a nonprofit organization where artists pay their way, in part or in full. Each writer receives a small room to sleep in, a shared bath, a private writing studio, and all meals. The residency brings in three visiting artists per two-week period (usually two visual artists and a writer) to speak and offer critiques.
VSC residencies are competitive, awarded on the basis of an artist’s work. (Learn more about my work.) Because visual art stimulates my writing brain, I’m especially excited that VSC hosts a mixed group of visual artists and writers.
Where your contributions will go
VSC awarded me a merit scholarship, and I’ll meet some new buddies while I wash dishes (or something similar) 10 hours a week to help pay my way. But I still need to pay about $2,700 for the remaining 60 percent of the residency fee and my airfare to and from Vermont.
In addition, being away for four weeks as a self-employed person means I’ll need to cover my lost income. Fortunately, I have months to plan and save—but it doesn’t leave much to spare.
Why residencies matter
If you read stories online about people’s writing residency, you often see one common phrase: “It changed my life.”
· Residencies protect the mental space to concentrate long and hard. Creating art is a job—one whose investment is impossible to repay. Writing a book requires strenuous commitment, mental organization, and devotion.
· Because I write memoir, in addition to crafting sentences and building those sentences into a structure that will matter to others, I have to dig deep into myself to reveal meaning. This work is arduous and emotional. It demands time and concentration.
· Residencies are also about building artistic community and inspiration. They provide time and centered attention for long talks or short chats with others who share your challenges. (In other words, networking, but with a tough-to-pin-down crowd.)
Why this residency is so important to me
For years, I’ve been cooking up a book-length memoir about growing up as a gothy, redhaired preacher’s kid in Colorado. Recently, the book has simmered on the back burner while I’ve stirred many other pots: helping my daughter through some unexpected crises of high school and preparing to send her to college, losing several people close to me, and sustaining my mental health along the way. I haven’t given up on writing, but it’s fallen into the cracks of “here and there.”
If you know how much I enjoy snow (hint: Not much!), you know how serious I am about squeezing this opportunity into my life by requesting a February term. February doesn’t offer many family activities for me to miss, and it gives me time to prepare my work life for a temporary pause. As a bonus, the surely shivery weather in northern Vermont will keep me inside, bundled up, and staring into a notebook for many productive hours.
How you can help
It’s almost my birthday, and it’s back-to-school time—the season of refocusing.
It’s difficult to ask for help, but I know how much I value assisting others. Please know that I will be incredibly grateful for anything you can do to help me reach my goal and be present at the VSC residency.
From my heart, thank you so much for considering donating to my residency.
If you can’t afford to contribute—or would like to help me get the word out—please consider sharing my campaign link to your Facebook or other social media.
With my deepest appreciation,
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