A year ago today, I left for my residency at Wildacres. When I think back to those two weeks, I remember the desk where I wrote and revised for hours. I can hear the incredible noise the insects made every night. And I’m filled with gratitude for the space and time I had to write.
I feel that gratitude for my husband and kids who recognized how important that time to work was for me. To a wonderful woman who helped take care of my kids while I was gone. To great coworkers who kept the wheels turning while I left. And especially to the thoughtful and amazing staff at Wildacres, who took care of all the details so the residents could focus on creating.
If you’ve ever considered trying a residency, I strongly encourage it. Here are some of the practical things you may want to know.
How to find a residency
There are a few websites that list residencies. Check out res artis (international), Alliance of Artsists Communities, and the next program I want to check out — Arts in the Parks. There are tons of other resources online.
Why you might want a residency
Do you struggle to find time to write or finish a project? As a mother of two with a full-time job, a residency helped me get a tremendous amount of work done in a relatively short amount of time. I finished a draft while I was at Wildacres, and I wrote between 8-10 hours a day usually. I worked at my pace, on my schedule, and I didn’t even have to worry about cooking meals. I finished in two weeks what would have taken me months to do at home.
How to apply to a residency
I know this sounds basic, but read the application and follow directions. I spoke with a staff member at Wildacres, and he mentioned that a significant number of applications are discarded because people simply don’t follow directions. He also shared that people who could “hook” you with either their personal story or their project were the ones who usually got the residency. What story can you tell about your work? Why is it important? What is the thing that would capture someone’s interest? Focus on those hooks and share them.
Bonus advice: I looked for newer residencies and places that didn’t get as many applications as the more established locations like Yaddo or Hedgebrook because the competition was slightly less stiff, and I really wanted to go during a specific summer. I ended up getting offered two residencies.
But what about money?
There are some residencies that are free. There are some that come with a stipend or scholarship. Chances are, you can find a way to make it happen, although it can be difficult depending on your personal situation. If you can pull it off, it will be worth it to you and your work.
“Let the magic happen”
Two phrases kept repeating themselves in mind while I was there, and I shared the thoughts in a journal that is left in the cabin for future residents. If you want to:
Savor the silence and
Let the magic happen
then I strongly suggest you try a residency.