Wow. Sorry that took so long – I didn’t mean to leave you hanging in the middle of a blog post, but I was combing hair. Boy hair. Girl hair. My hair. And doing laundry. Some sixty-five dollars worth of it. It’s insane how quickly time flies when your kid comes home with…lice.

Yes. Thanks to the vagaries of a boys-only sleepover. I was briefly transported to the middle ages. Horrific. And definitely on the top-ten things I never even briefly thought could keep me from writing until I had kids….ooh. That’s for sure going to be a later post.

For now, here’s the continuation of my thoughts on creating mental space.


Who among us hasn’t dreamed of six weeks as a resident in an artist colony, far away from real life, surrounded by genius writers who only want to inspire other writers?  Oh the bliss of waking naturally, refreshed and ready, having breakfast served to you as you sit quietly over coffee thinking about the work you will continue today. The characters are fresh in your mind, and last night, you dreamed of a new plot twist, one that will work admirably to get the Jamaican maid into the room where she will witness the downfall of the young man she must serve but secretly loves. You are excited. You leave the dishes on a sideboard and dash off to your private cabin, where your printout is plastered all over the floor. You snatch up chapter 12 and start to scribble in the margins. Before you know it, it’s lunch time, and someone has left you a basket of fruit, cheese and bread by the door. You go for a solitary walk along a winding forest path and the birds remind you that you haven’t put enough nature imagery into chapter 3. You return to your cabin, brew a fresh pot of coffee, and get back to work. You’re so into it, so inspired, that you skip the dinner as well as the lecture on first person vs. third person by a Nobel Prize winning poet, and you hunker down well past midnight, eating protein bars whenever your stomach growls.

Sigh. It sounds amazing.
But the reality? It’s damned expensive and your kid’s orthodontist just told you he’ll need headgear as well as braces. Which means you better also save for therapy. And yes, there are many scholarships for worthy applicants, but let’s just say that you won a full residency with airfare. What parent can actually get away for that long? Six weeks? That’s like military rotation. (ok, military is longer and the consequences are more far-reaching, but give me the metaphor for just a minute).  Six weeks is enough time for a newborn to have a first tooth, take a first step, say a first word, and grow two clothing sizes. Tell me that’s something you’d like to hear about over email with a video attachment.
Nonetheless: people do it. For parents who want to go to residencies, timing is everything. Some residencies, like Yaddo, are good for parents who need to get away because they do pay allow for shorter stays and for brief family visits. And they pay for everything. That’s a serious bonus.
As a parent, you’re already super-focused and working in whatever time is allotted. A parent who takes two weeks away from his kids is going to damn straight get to work. There won’t be any navel-gazing at all, because the minute his mind strays from his novel, he will be faced with a wall of guilt. And believe me, guilt is a fantastic motivator to keep you on track. Parents who attend colonies feel they have to make the time away worthwhile—so let me tell you—that time is productive. There are pages to show for it. It’s not just a resume booster. It’s real working time.

It’s definitely worth it, if you can get away. But can you?

Next week: Family Friendly Residencies.