What 3 Years of Writing Residencies Taught Me

12From 2010-2012, I spent 21 out of 36 months on the road, hopping from writing residency to writing residency, drafting Flashes of War. I didn’t know yet that I’d become a fiction author. I didn’t know if I’d ever have a book. I didn’t even know–quite often–where I’d be sleeping and eating the next month. But I did know that I’d be writing for the rest of my life, and that it brought me a sense of peace, significance, and insight, in addition to helping me engage with and make sense of the world. (More about that, here.)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but all that deep, uninterrupted work with my own creative process–both the technical and the imaginative–not only helped me become a better writer, but a better teacher. Because I’d lived so closely with my own habits of mind, challenges, triumphs, and doubts as a creative person, I found I was uniquely prepared to assist others in their creative work. I learned more than one blog post can possibly contain, but a major takeaway from those three years + my eight years mentoring writing students via distance, is this:

I learned that most writers do need uninterrupted work time to complete compelling works of fiction and nonfiction, but I also learned that a majority of those writers also need a touch of instruction to counterbalance the solitude and uncertainties such an expanse of time invites. The ideal residency for a lot of writers trying for their first book, or their first book in a new genre, should combine the very best of what an artist colony can offer, along with an ounce or two of pertinent instruction. This combination, I reasoned, would prove inspiring and beneficial.

6After two years of dreaming, proposing, planning, and pitching, I’m happy to report that such an opportunity exists. Interlochen College of Creative Arts, where I teach four times a year, has agreed to pilot a Deep Revision Retreat, which I will facilitate on the center’s campus in northern Michigan this April. This is fully-immersive, by-application, and focused on technical and creative revision techniques for writers working with a full or partially completed manuscript. Will you help me try to succeed with this program by telling a friend about it, who might be interested? Will you consider it yourself, if you’re a practicing writer longing for that first or second book? I hope so. Here’s the information you need.

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