Residencies with Friends

It’s been a minute (more than a month) since I went to Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities for a week-long writing residency. If you’ve been around, you might recognize that place or even that sentence, because it was my fourth residency there (and my fifth residency (and one fellowship) total). What could I possibly have to say to you at this point about residencies (you can just look up the old blogs, after all) or this particular residency?

Well, my career has been changing over time, and perhaps it has never morphed as much as it has in the past six months. Also, I like to think I learn from different residencies and other things. Can I justify that with telling you what I learned at this residency? Maaaaybe. Let’s see… MFA programs are considered by some to only be as good as their networking possibilities. That’s not really that exciting. Okay, how about this? Taking a walk in the woods is an important, possibly even critical, part of my writing process (blog on this forthcoming). Perhaps it is for you, too. You might want to consider it. Or at least some way to move your body and get outside in order to think about the problems that are cropping up in your plot or character development or whatever.

This is the first time that I have been in residence with a friend. I wasn’t actually planning on any more residencies until at least the spring, but I had a writer friend send me an email in December saying they were going to be in residence at Weymouth and if I (or one of our other writer friends) would apply for that same week and get in, that would be a nice time. So I did apply, but that week was full. I was offered the next week and took it and apparently that week wasn’t full because my friend ended up extending her stay (as did her husband, a songwriter) through my week. Huzzah! I didn’t quite know how this would work, but it turns out that, at least with Anita and Wes, this was the best of ideas. There was a lot of mutual respect for time and work but also some downtime together and even some sharing of workspaces that led to work-related conversations about everything from submissions to great books, MFA programs to character development. (There was one obnoxious hitch, which was that I was exposed—and I mean EXPOSED, like I can’t believe I didn’t get it—to Covid two days before I left, so I had to be all super-careful about eating around and being unmasked around anyone for, well, the CDC recommended 10 days at the time. If that hadn’t been the case, I probably would have also spent some meals with them and that would have been even better.)

I always enjoy a week (or two) at Weymouth. I like my “hikes” at the reservoir, my walks into the Country Bookshop and to Swank coffee shop, my little runs to the grocery store and takeout from some Indian restaurant or other. I like making fancy, Devon-centric meals in the little kitchen and wandering the haunted halls and pretty gardens and was surprised that I enjoyed all this even in the winter. I appreciate the space that Weymouth has devoted to (4 at a time) North Carolina (published) writers and that they seem to have such loyalty to those of us who like to frequent (with a max of two weeks per year) their writers’ wing.

Here’s the other thing. I won Nanowrimo in November, writing for the first book of a YA trilogy. I hadn’t done much with it in December, the holidays being what they are. My early-January stay at Weymouth was actually great timing for getting a whole lot more words on the page (sorry, I didn’t keep track of how many) and spending hours and hours elbow-deep in notecards while I not only story-planned but figured out just what story-planning was coming to look like for me. (I also spent maybe an hour at Michael’s figuring out how I could take my inclinations and my new plotting-training and turn it into an actual thing. It involves notecards, colored notecards, and little boxes to hold the notecards in separate piles.) Though I came back from all these words and work and struggled a little while longer with getting lots of words written consistently in my real life, I did get my butt in gear in a few weeks, having moved from Save the Cat! Writes a Novel to Writing Mastery Academy (online, blog coming soon). I think part of this process to where I am today (2,000 words daily with a finish goal for book one on March 10) is because of leaping back into the book in early January. During the residency. It’s the residency’s fault.

Thanks again, Weymouth. I’ll be back soon.


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