writer-in-residence

As you read this post, I’m on a plane bound for my next stint as writer-in-residence. I spent a month in Wales last year finalizing Hard to Die. Today, I’m headed for three weeks in Trélex, Switzerland.

My mission? To find the voices the drugs quashed during months-long treatment for toxoplasmosis retinitis, an incurable parasitic disease that’s causing me to go blind. With any luck, I’ll emerge with a complete draft of my next speculative thriller I Am Number 13.

More on that as it develops.

What It’s Like to Be Writer-in-Residence

  1. It isn’t a vacation. To earn a residency, I must submit a proposal for my project-in-residence. The director will expect me to work every day, share my work with other residents, and volunteer to enhance the program. Yes, I’ll be in an inspiring location near Lake Geneva. Yes, I’ll spend some portion of each day savoring it. But being a resident is WORK.
  2. I’ll be living with strangers. I’ll share space dorm-style with at least four other artists. We’ll use the same bathroom and cook in the same kitchen. I’m the only American. I’ll negotiate my way with rudimentary French (and hope everyone speaks English!)
  3. I’m an ambassador for my country. And isn’t THAT fraught with crazy these days? Whatever one may believe about America’s position in the world, leaving the United States usually educates a person about being American. Most people will have stereotypical ideas about who and what Americans represent. As much as I’d like to leave everything controversial at home, I must represent my country. I hope I’ll do a good job.
  4. I’ll produce a torrent of words. Whenever I sequester myself, I produce around 25,000 words a week. Our world is noisy, but it’s a distraction from the music of the voices who speak when I’m silent. Residencies are an opportunity to be still and listen. Cross fingers the voices will return!!
  5. I’ll make new friends. Residencies challenge my boundaries and expose my prejudices. As I break down my own barriers, I’ll connect with people who are different. A couple of those souls will become lifelong friends, barometers to moderate my views on what citizens of other nations are like.

I can’t wait to get started!

While I’m on residency, I’ll be absent from social media. If you comment, Jendi will respond for me.

YOU CAN STILL FOLLOW MY RESIDENCY.

I plan to send Jendi weekly updates on my progress. She will post them here. Make sure you don’t miss a thing. Subscribe to my website updates by email.

Like my Author Page on Facebook. Jendi will post periodic photos and quick snippets from my residency. She may have something new every day. We’ll see what my internet situation is when I get there!

For insider information, join my Elite Reader Group on Facebook. This group always gets details curated just for them. I may ask them questions about plot points as I’m on residency. Recently, I even asked them for suggestions to use in a key part of my current story. Jendi will also do a weekly digest email especially for this group.

I am not afraid of the world

What are you afraid of? I shared this Elizabeth Gilbert quote a couple of posts ago, because I wanted to allow you to laugh at me today.

What am I afraid of?

I’m afraid of driving in the UK.

By the time you read this, I hope I’ll be a pro, but I’m writing it two days before I pick up my rental car in Reading. From there, I embark upon a four hour drive to Wales. In an effort to acclimate myself, I rode to work with my friend Kate today. I figured spending an hour in the passenger seat might alleviate dizziness.

It didn’t work.

Driving on the other side of the road doesn’t bother me. By the time one gets in the other side of the car, she’s already on high alert, right? Everybody else is driving on the other side of the road, meaning I’ll just go along.

But the UK loves its roundabouts. Every time I encounter one, I imagine myself on the edge of a circus. Everyone everyone plows into them. Drivers change lanes willy-nilly, sometimes with motorcyclists passing between cars and lorries.

I can’t manage the occasional US roundabout. Most of my near-accidents have happened in or near these one-lane bastards. UK roundabouts sometimes have three or four lanes, always full of traffic. Oh, I can signal my intentions to the other drivers, but here’s the other thing about driving in the UK: the signal indicator is on the wrong side of the steering column. Every time I try to turn on my blinker, I flip the windshield wipers instead.

I may very well kill people or die.

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This is part of a series of pictures about making memories. If you liked the story why not share it with your friends? Let’s meet on Facebook or Twitter. If you prefer pictures you will surely like my Instagram. I’ve collected inspirational things and more on Pinterest! Any comments? Write them below!

I am not afraid of the world

I am not afraid of the world, but I am afraid of people who are afraid of the world. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Are you afraid of the world? We live in a world consumed by fear. Fear of what might happen. Fear of people who spout opposing views. Fear of those who worship differently. Fear of worst possible outcomes, spelled out and dissected all over twenty-four hour news.

I saw this Liz Gilbert quote in a New York Times interview a couple of weeks ago, and it spoke to me. Fear keeps us from being curious. When we’re afraid, we don’t challenge systems or ask questions. We shun adventure in favor of safety and security and sameness. Maybe we let fear keep us from living lives we’re meant to lead.

On Tuesday, I board a plane for London, a place teeming with fears of terrorism. Two weeks into my Welsh writing residency, I’m flying to Amsterdam to visit friends for the weekend. Dang it, I can’t be in Europe for a month and not take advantage of a quick flight to a cool locale, even if it is a short train ride from continued tensions in Brussels. I’m heading to Ireland for book research before I fly home. I refuse to avoid trains and subways, taxis and ferries to experience things I want to see.

Jendi will schedule my Monday posts while I’m away. She’ll also man my Facebook page. Please talk to her. She’s looking forward to responding to your questions on my behalf. A couple of times a week, I’ll send her quick updates to share. If I’m lucky, I’ll find cellular service once in a while and share a picture or two.

Please don’t be strangers. Don’t forget me while I’m gone, because you’ll be on my mind the whole time. I’m creating new stories with you in mind, adventures I can’t wait for you to get lost in.

Because what is reading, really, if it isn’t an escape from the fearful, crazy, unpredictable world we inhabit?

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This is part of a series of pictures about making memories. If you liked the story why not share it with your friends? Let’s meet on Facebook or Twitter. If you prefer pictures you will surely like my Instagram. I’ve collected inspirational things and more on Pinterest! Any comments? Write them below!