This year I was lucky enough to be selected for 4 writing residencies:
The Arteles Creative Centre in Finland
The Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth, Australia
The Vermont Studio Center in the United States, and
The Can Serrat International Art Residency in Barcelona
In March this year, I spent three weeks at the Arteles Creative Centre in the Finnish countryside.
This was the first residency I had ever attended. Although excited and honoured to be selected (the application process is quite competitive), I was actually a little apprehensive before I left my comfortable Brisbane home. A few fears started doing the rounds in my mind:
Would I get writer’s block with all that time on my hands? Three full weeks without distraction, with nothing to do but write. The terror of the blank page started to haunt me before I even began.
Would I be lonely? Although I was looking forward to being away from my family to focus on my manuscript, would I miss them?
Would I be cold? I’d never been to Europe, let alone one of its northernmost countries, during winter.
Would I be able to feed myself? This is a bit of an embarrassing question to admit to, but I had been depending on my partner and daughter, who are much better cooks than me, to look after the bulk of my nutrition at home. The residency was in a remote location, with weekly drives to a grocery store about half an hour away, and residents expected to cater for themselves. How would I fare?
As it turns out, none of my fears were warranted.
In fact, I ended up having one of the best times of my life. I felt a deep happiness and joy at Arteles that I had not felt for years. What was so good about it?
Being able to write, create, ponder, and go deeply into my project all day, every day, without interruption.
Meeting other writers and artists from all over the world.
The beautiful environment — pristine, quiet, still and white. Just what my creative soul needed.
And I still have three residencies to look forward to over the next year. In Perth, Vermont and Barcelona.
Although I’ve had a few ups and downs with my writing career (I’m still looking for a publisher for my longer works), I feel blessed to have been selected for these opportunities. I was also selected for the Yale Writers Conference last year, but was unable to attend due to family commitments.
The recent residency at Arteles reminded me that the most rewarding thing about writing is writing itself. To be absorbed in the reverie of creative flow for hours on end provides a joy like no other.
Have you ever been to a writers residency? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience: