Alexandra's Resident Artist Fund
This is me as a kid with my granddad, doing one of the things I love best: reading. Clearly, I was a precocious young whippersnapper. My love of books and stories started at a young age and only got worse -- I mean, grew -- with time. When I was not much older than in this photo, my mother caught me reading her Lamaze book. I also picked up a (somewhat scandalous) novel about a female pope at my grandmother’s house, which horrified said grandmother (although the book WAS in her living room!) and made it a habit of walking home from school while reading. I did take my nose out of the book to cross the street.
Unsurprisingly, one of the other things I love best is writing.
In fact, I’m trying to make a living at it. First the typewriter and then the computer fascinated me, because I could write my OWN stories (the typewriter still has the edge for that awesomely clattery sound it makes as you type... nothing says “Busy and Important” like the smashing of typewriter keys). I have a difficult time wrapping my arms around my bigger projects or finishing them properly, though, because of the pressures of time and earning an income. Which is why I’m setting up this campaign -- against all odds, I have received a four-week writing residency, which comes with a price tag.
For those unfamiliar, a residency allows for uninterrupted time and space to do creative work. The Vermont Studio Center (check them out here: http://www.vermontstudiocenter.org/) provides room, board, and private studio space as part of the residency. The VSC is the largest international artists’ and writers’ residency program in the US. They host over 50 artists and writers, from the US and abroad, each month. One of the aspects of the residency here that really appealed to me was the sense of community offered in the space, and both formal and informal ways of sharing work and getting feedback and critiques.
Admission to a VSC residency is competitive, and based on a review of the portfolio or manuscript. At the time I submitted my work, my application was one of more than 2,000. I am thrilled beyond belief to be invited to be part of the group of peers in residence.
The center has offered me tuition assistance (cue happy dance!). This means my work was well-regarded by the jurors (more dancing!). The trouble is, the fee is still a scary proportion of my overall budget, even with the financial aid. Now that I have a shot at the residency, I look at the fee and the endeavor still feels like a beautiful dream. This is where your help comes in.
In addition to the gift of time, writing residencies are extremely valuable for new and unknown voices, because participating in residencies and conferences adds to our network in the field, our visibility -- and our credibility. Because not everyone gets to participate in writer’s residencies, and some are quite exclusive (I haven’t gotten a MacDowell yet!), being able to add this experience to my CV will boost my chances at further residencies, a wider audience, and possibly even fellowships (a girl can dream) down the road. To speak nothing of publication, which is its own beast.
This means that beyond giving me the gift of time -- which is a BIG deal for any artist -- and the chance to finish this project, your support, no matter its size, may be just what I need in order to get my legs under me in a challenging creative industry. And that would mean the world to me.
I am raising money to cover the fee for the four-week residency, as well as for the airfare from Denver to Vermont. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my request, and thank you most of all for your support thus far in ways money can’t quantify: friendship, cookies, laughter, and the gift of YOUR time whenever I need it. I appreciate you all.
I've started what I hope will be a weekly post around all things residency, at my blog, which you can find at makebelieve.alexoconnell.com. This week's installment: getting ready for the residency -- is writing the best groundwork? Check it out & let me know if you have any ideas.
Sending you on your way with snowy greetings & cups of cocoa (we're finally getting winter here),