Suspend Your Disbelief

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No fellowship? Make your own.


writing nook

So maybe you didn’t into MacDowell this year, or Bread Loaf, or [insert highly desired writer’s conference, residency, or program here]. You’ve got two options:

  1. Sit and mope.
  2. Make your own.

Two fiction teachers from Boston’s Grub Street, Adam Stumacher and Jenn De Leon, describe how they decided to craft their own “writing fellowship”—and managed to write for an entire year:

One afternoon last fall, we looked at each other over a kitchen table cluttered with self-addressed stamped envelopes and statements of purpose, and we reached a decision. This year, we were not going to wait for permission. This year, no matter what kind of news the postman delivered, we had already made our choice: we were going to write full-time.

As the rejection letters trickled in, we got to work, researching artist colonies and holding down multiple jobs all spring and summer, saving every penny. And then we set off, cobbling together a year of short-term residencies, international travel, and any other offer that included a bed, a coffee maker, and two desks. Over the past twelve months, we unpacked our suitcases in twenty-two bedrooms across three continents and seven states, and that’s not counting all the places we stopped so briefly we never unpacked: a Motel 6 near the Cleveland railroad tracks, a hostel in a small New Hampshire town, the spare room of an aunt in Guatemala City.

Read the whole story over at Grub Street’s blog. It’s a great reminder that even when resources are finite, you can still get your writing done.

Join the Discussion

  • I love this idea, and how you could adapt it to shorter time frames (a necessity when you have kids and they’d notice if you traveled the country without them for a year, or oh, 48 hours). This could be done over a few months, or in dedicated weekends, or in place of vacations, should you be so lucky to have those. Taking the time aggressively seems to be the key here, and any “extra” time is sure to provide an uptick to your work. Good for them.

  • Celeste Ng

    Danielle, that reminds me of one of my writing teachers/mentors: she would periodically rent herself a hotel room in some really boring place, with no internet, lay in a supply of snacks, order room service, and write for a weekend. The idea of a “writing” vacation–which could be even just a weekend–is so appealing, and doable!

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