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.

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Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

Last week, I wrote about my writing residency at Stiwdio Maelor in Wales. I hope I can shrink my backside while making lots of words. If you missed it, catch up HERE.

Garnering a writing residency is a competitive process. One must submit his or her work along with a list of writing accolades and accomplishments. She must have a work-in-progress that meets the stated goals and objectives of the organization. A demonstrated ability to work also helps, because writing residencies aren’t vacations. They’re opportunities to spend concentrated time focusing on our work.

My work is writing.

Only I don’t feel much like a writer these days. To meet readers, I pack my calendar with appearances all over the United States, opportunities I still book myself. I teach classes and give high-energy motivational talks. I drive myself to every appearance, sometimes three-a-day in huge cities where I spend the entire day either presenting or in traffic. I send thank-you notes and run on the hamster wheel with my various inboxes. I try to stay on top of what’s happening to my tribe via social media. I strategize about where to promote my books. I set up online specials and update a database with my progress. I pitch myself for conferences and network with the people who might select me. I scored a huge literary publicist for my next project, and I have a separate book to write for him and his team. (I’m not kidding. Answering his twelve-page questionnaire to help them get me everywhere I need to be will result in a fifty page novella. I take this stuff seriously.) And when he’s successful, I’ll have to set aside time for interviews, time to write articles and responses, and time for last minute requests.

Sheesh. This post is already too long. Are you tired yet?

And I haven’t even listed everything Jendi, my indispensable assistant, does. Since we started working together, she’s taken over content on my Facebook author page. She manages most of my other social media. Do you like the memes and videos? She makes them, along with setting up my posts and newsletters. But she doesn’t only handle online things. When I book an appearance, she sends all materials and does all followup. She maintains the insanity of my calendar and doesn’t call me crazy for how much I schedule. She sometimes even completes online forms and helps me score new appearances. She mails postcards to readers who sign up for my newsletter.

Yes, I did ALL THIS STUFF before I found her.

I wake up every morning and wonder how to convince someone to read my books that day, and I do all of the above things and more to try to connect with one or several new readers EVERY DAY. Since I published my first book, I can probably count my true days of vacation on my fingers, because it doesn’t matter where I am: THE ACTIVITIES REQUIRED TO KEEP WRITING NEVER SHUT OFF.

Announcement: I’m shutting off.

I won a writing residency in the middle of nowhere. I won’t have internet in Wales. For a month, I’m not going to worry about tanking book sales or what I’m not doing to find new readers or responding to everything. A writer must EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER to captivate readers. I’m determined to lose myself for a month and craft new stories where you can lose yourself, too.

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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!

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