I received some good news I've been hoping for. I was awarded one of the 25 slots for the Wildacres Residency Program. Wildacres is a 1600-acres compound near the Blue Ridge Parkway that hosts different groups throughout the year for creativity (writers workshops, pottery/painting seminars) and business retreats. They also have a small cabin (see photo) on the compound that they award free one-week residencies to writers, artists, and musicians. The cabin has no phone, radio, TV or alarm clock, but does have wood burning indoor and outdoor fireplaces and its own tiny kitchen (meals are served at the main lodge). There is also (gulp) no Internet access except at two public telephones where you can connect your laptop.
The point of the residency is to focus exclusively on your project with no distractions. No spouses, friends, pets are allowed. The artist in residence is allowed to join group activities scheduled at the main lodge, however.
I've tentatively been assigned a week in September. I was a little disappointed, as I was hoping to go earlier, but the more I think about it the better I like the time frame. We leave in May for England/Scotland and I'll need most of June to catch up on assignments and get back on track. The cabin isn't air-conditioned so I have no desire to visit in July or August so there you have it: September will be here before I know it.
There is an immense appeal in going away to write. No distractions, no "have to's," no "when I can find the time." When I mentioned last month to Blair I was applying his response was if that's what I wanted why didn't I just take a week or a month or whatever and go to a hotel or B&B somewhere and write?
Logical question that I don't have a logical answer for. My answer is because. Because if I went to a hotel, every day I'm thinking that my being there is costing money--room, meals, etc. And it seems so self-indulgent--being able to work from home isn't enough, now I have to have turn-down service too?
But being given a free week of board with free meals and being acknowledged as a writer having earned my place there feels different. I recognize it's all mental, but I just feel like I'll put more into this residency than I would if I just went and stayed at a random hotel for a week.
I want it to be a week of discovery. Will I stay up and write late into the night since I won't have to be up early for yoga or networking sessions? Will I spend my time in the cabin or seek the company of others at the lodge? Will I write longhand or shorthand? How many hours a day will I spend writing? How many hours a day can I spend writing? At home, there's always a phone call or an errand or an assignment or dinner or something that comes along to chop up the day. Here, it will be my time to do with whatever I please.
Fingers crossed I don't blow it. That would be depressing to go and waste a week and be bored. I don't think that will happen though. I'm too anal-retentive to allow it. However, I am taking NOTHING up there except my Millicent story. No other projects, no itty-bitty assignments, no columns or query letters to be worked on. The only "to do" is to work on my novel.
I can't wait.