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Writing Residency Rundown

I figured I’d write about these because they completely flew under my radar until recently, and I suspect I’m not the only writer who can say that. There are (very) numerous writing residencies, some paid, some free, available to writers. Maybe this is one of those things that people who actually go to school to become writers hear about. Maybe it’s some crazy fluke that I hadn’t ever heard anything about them. I’m going to assume I’m not alone in my ignorance, here. . .  If there’s one thing every single human being should be able to take comfort, it’s that.

Some people aren’t going to be as excited about these as I am. Not everyone finds joy in traveling, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I want to see the world, and live in it. Some people find more staying at home and exploring their own minds. I can respect that. Me, I can always feel the horizon pulling at my feet. Sometimes it’s not too bad, sometimes it borders on painful. If I had one complaint about my current job situation, it’s that it doesn’t leave much time and money for travelling; and here, suddenly, is a potential solution that’s existed all along.

Anyway, I put a bit of time this morning into reading up on residencies, and I decided to cover the obvious questions, in case you’re not sure if a writing residency might be worth pursuing for you:

What is a residency?

Exactly what it sounds like. You live somewhere, usually with other writers, poets, or artists, and do art things. Inspire yourself, meet others with similar interests, and expand your personal universe just a bit.

What good is a residency?

Well, that’s a good question. I love to travel, but my car doesn’t have wifi. Although that seems to be a feature in next year’s models.  So you can see why a residency might appeal to me. For some, it’s a chance to  connect or recharge. For others it’s a chance to seclude themselves for their work. In the grander scheme, it’s all about furthering the art. It’s a program intended to provide the push to create just a few more great artists. I think that’s a worthy endeavor.

Where can you get a residency?

Wow. Everywhere from the Cascades to Cannes. And it’s not just the places that vary, it’s the seasons. A residency in the Colorado Rockies is going to be very different in December than July.

Do they cost money? Do they pay?

Yes. Depends on the program. Some are free, some pay stipends, some have trivial costs, some cost an arm and a leg, and yet others cover housing, but not food, or something along those lines. The combinations exceed the page space I want to devote to them, and you’ll have to look at individual programs to find out more.

Who can apply? What do they require from applicants?

It depends on the program, but basically all of them have websites, and the applicant requirements are generally listed. Just about all of them ask for writing samples for obvious reasons.

How do I learn more about the residencies?

Well, their websites are a good place to start. However, an even better place to start is the link I gave you earlier to Poets & Writers list of residencies and festivals.

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