Artist Nina Rodin started The Trelex Residency in her home, Maison Binet.

Artist Nina Rodin started The Trelex Residency in her home, Maison Binet. Her father entered this eclectic architectural addition to Trelex’s skyline 80 years ago.

Artist Nina Rodin started The Trelex Residency in her home, Maison Binet. Her father entered this eclectic architectural addition to Trelex's skyline 80 years ago.

Multiple architectural styles are on display, almost like he couldn’t decide what sort of home he wanted. Plus, the house expanded over time. As an artist of some renown, Nina wanted to make space for other creatives to retreat, recharge, and make art. She makes studio and living space available free of charge to artists.

The Trelex Residency in Nina Rodin's home, Maison Binet.

This year, she started the Writing Desk Residency program. A writer can apply for spots in Trelex at Maison Binet, and poets can apply for residencies in Paris. A third Trelex Residency is available in Peru, with more on the way. For more information, go to thetrelexresidency.com.

Nina’s work is in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection, among many others. Learn more about her and her work at  ninarodin.com.

The artwork outside my door at Maison Binet

If you look closely, you’ll see faded words within each piece. Because that’s history, right? Things happened however they did, but we only know what people chose to tell us.

In some cases, they lied to glorify themselves and be remembered as grander than they were. In others, they tried to smear enemies to keep their accomplishments from being remembered at all. So much history is faded words and phrases we barely grasp.

Much like Merry’s journal in To Live Forever, we don’t really know what happened for much of Time. Yet we try to interpret it. We read various accounts, both pro and con, sympathetic and not. But in the end of our searching, history is a few nuggets of truth layered with a century or more of opinions.

In “I Am Number 13,” I’m grappling with a historic event that was never recorded, but I’m certain it happened. On a dark night lost to history, men met. They agreed. And they implemented an audacious plan. Theo was there. Maybe Merry was, too, though unwitting. Their failure doesn’t stop people from making bold and doomed plans.

We don’t study history, because the living want to believe they’re more powerful than the dead. We’re the ones who breathe and dream and eat and orgasm and explore. But we could learn a lot from my characters’ failure. Emmaline is finally flowing, and she’s ready to see what she’s supposed to see. I’m not sure I’m ready, nor do I know what price I’ll pay for delving into something best forgotten. But my butt is in my chair. My fingers are nimble. And my soul trumpets words.

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See what my room and view is like in this post about my writing residency, and tour the town of Trelex in this post.

To paying attention. Here's to the now.

Am I the only person who spends hours and days and weeks of her life absent?

I was in Houston recently, and I managed to squeeze an hour between appearances to visit the Rothko Chapel and De Menil Museum. For those not married to architects, Marc Rothko designed his chapel as a place of peace, a respite from the loud world, a space for silence and reflection.

I put my phone away and sat in front of each painting, trying to use the place as intended. Only I couldn’t concentrate because a woman was camped on the floor, scrolling through her phone. What was she paying attention to? She never looked away from her screen once.

Perplexed, I wandered over to the De Menil Museum and sat in the lobby. White walls were spangled with Ellsworth Kellys, and what was everyone gazing at? Their phones. We’re becoming like those dreamers in the film Inception, preferring the dream world. Absent from reality.

I didn’t bring minute-by-minute social media on residency for myriad reasons. I want to be present.

I’m fortunate to have dear friends in Milan. While they worked today, I walked the city without any real purpose. I sat in Parco Sempione and listened to conversations, watched couples make out, and savored children playing. Stumbled into a Milan Men’s Fashion Week event and an architecture week lecture. Enjoyed a latte at a favorite haunt, and noticed how many Italian men don’t wear socks. Sweated and huffed through almost 18,000 in-the-moment steps. I need to live in the present tense.

Here’s to the now. To paying attention and hearing what everything tells me. To writing snippets and weaving a tale.

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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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