Reporting from the Trenches: Writer’s Colony No. 3

September 8, 2011

Every September I go to a writer’s colony.

Not because I planned it that way. I just realized this while preparing for my first residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, known among artists as VCCA. My two weeks there start today. Yup, today.

In September 2009, I spent five weeks at The Hambidge Center, my first artists’ colony experience. (That’s when I fell in love.) I returned there for two weeks in September 2010, at a time when I was feeling lost. And now I’m about to spend much of this September at VCCA.

Two weeks is the minimum stay at VCCA. But when I applied months ago, I still had a day job, and two weeks away was all I could manage.

Each time I go to a writer’s colony, I go out of my way to blog about it. Partly because a lot of you seem to be seeking similar experiences, and partly because there’s really not all that much online about what it’s really like at an artists’ residency. My theory is that’s because the writer, artist and musician types that frequent these colonies don’t spend a lot of time online.

My studio at Hambidge.

Several writers I met at Hambidge and others I’ve connected with online have spoken highly of VCCA. But despite reading their page on what to expect, I don’t really know what to expect. I do, however, know what to hope for:

  • To connect with creative spirits who can teach me about writing, creating and living. Colonies have proved to be fabulous places to find these people.
  • To enjoy some much-needed time away from the Internet and replenish myself spiritually. I’ll still be servicing my clients, but I’ve done as much work as possible ahead of time so I can focus on my book. And since my Internet time will be limited, this is a great excuse to escape the vicious circle of email for a while.

I’ll still be blogging — because that helps me process what I experience — so you can still have a dose of me several times a week if you want it.

Finally, a note about how I’m feeling: excited, but also nervous. It’s always nerve-wracking to go to a new place where you don’t know anyone (for me, anyhow). But each writer’s colony I’ve attended so far has helped me grow significantly as a writer and a person while facilitating an awesome bout of productivity, and I have no doubt that this experience will do the same.

Think you might want to attend a writer’s colony? Here are my posts on Hambidge. And one on how to find and apply to artists’ colonies.

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    6 Replies to “Reporting from the Trenches: Writer’s Colony No. 3”

    • Sounds idyllic. Soak it all in! I would love to do this one day. I’ve never done a writers colony, but I recently attended a conference by myself (along with 650 people I didn’t know!) and I found it very refreshing to be just me, myself, and I. I usually go places, even retreats and conferences, with people I know, who are like me, and there’s a certain dynamic between us. I experienced some personal revelations I would not have without this aloneness.

    • Simone says:

      Kudos to you, Lexi! Enjoy the quiet. You always remind me of the things I’ve been meaning to do for years….Almost did a residency at Vermont Studio Center a couple years ago, but didn’t get the full ride…now that I’m older and slightly less broke, I think I’ll apply again!

      Will you be working on your Africa book? Or a new project? Curious to hear where your head is these days.

    • Simone says:

      Oops. Somehow skipped over the part about Book 2. It’s a great idea.

    • Shawndra Russell says:

      Sounds wonderful! Reading about your artist residency experiences has inspired me to go on a retreat on my own. My parents have a small beach house and I am going there for three weeks all alone (husband is staying home!). I plan to stock up on good food, exercise every day, and most importantly, finish my book proposal. I will be there for most of October. Enjoy your September!

    • I wouldn’t dare inflict myself on unsuspecting, and smart people in confinement for two weeks. I’d be murdered within the week. I can’t stand myself, so know what I’d do if I turned up. It does sound a nice idea, but then just like I lucked into a book deal, I also lucked into a beautiful rural beach town, so solitude and surfing keep me from Police stations and strip bars!

      But, I guess I’m still learning to be an author and not an idiot. Sounds nice though. Like rehab… without the hugs and therapy.

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