I always wanted to go to a writing residency or retreat, but just being out of college the prices, location and the amount of time I could really stay to be productive and meet new people really made me have to keep it on hold for a while.
Enter Wellspring House in Ashfield, MA. I discovered the residency in a past issue of Poets and Writers magazine and upon further research was won over by the affordability, location and the opportunity to be elsewhere for a while.
I decided to go for it.
A couple weeks later, I look back on that week-long stay as a much-needed blessing. While struggling with NaNoWriMo and the craziness of the world closing in, I needed the change and space to be creative, but also think in general about everything around me. There are so many things I cherished; from the cozy fireplace in the living room surrounded by SO MANY books, the kitchen where I had to cook for myself for the very first time since college, the closeness and fellowship at church those two Sundays and the fellow writers I got to meet.
I was the youngest person during my stay at Wellspring House. But, I felt welcomed, appreciated and further encouraged as a fellow writer and artist. You really need to be with a group of fellow artists once in a while!! Plus, laughing, talking and enjoying meals with my fellow residents and our host outside of what we were working on made the week even more fun than just sitting in my room the entire time typing out that first novel on my computer! I got to venture out more for the first time since my final semester of college by walking around in the quietness of small town life and nature. I even had fun food adventures with delicious pizza from Country Pie Pizza and GIGANTIC pancakes from local grocer and restaurant Elmer’s.
By the time I drove home, I felt different: calmer, productive, at peace with myself and God, and happier. I didn’t realize until then that I really needed that week to myself: to write, to walk, to talk with new people…and just relax. Not worry about anything.
My time there is one of my highlights of 2016.
If there is a residency or retreat near you, even if just for a few days, go. You need the friendships and creative space. Plus, even the best writers need a break from life so they can focus on their craft uninterrupted!
Take a chance. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll write!
I want to take a moment to thank my host, Christian, for being such an awesome guy, Preston Browning for this amazing residency (I hope you’re doing better and hope the next time I visit I get to meet you!!) and a shout out to the awesome fellow writers I got to know during my stay: Glenys, Juliet, Melissa, Amy, Arlyn and whoever else I may have forgotten! Hope ya’ll are well and happy writing!!