9 Unconventional Writers’ Residencies
In reality, the easiest way to get on with a novel is to lock yourself in a garden shed with a laptop and a flask of coffee. The garden shed doesn’t require an application fee. The garden shed won’t reject you. But for writers looking for something more inspiring, here are a handful of more unusual writer residencies to consider.
Write A House
The Renaissance City writer
In what they call a twist on the writer’s residency, the Detroit Write a House project simply gives you a house, forever. In a forward-thinking piece of urban outreach, young people renovate homes left vacant in the wake of the city’s bankruptcy giving them vocational training. These houses are then made available to writers. Much like dropping a ship in the ocean for coral to grow on, they’re artificially stimulating the march of gentrification on the premise that creative people imbue a place with value, and that value is something other people, with more money than writers, are drawn to. Everyone wins. Though for now, there are just a few houses available.
Apply via writeahouse.org
Writer on wheels
There was something about the #AmtrakResidency that particularly appealed to writers, perhaps the romantic notion of spending dozens of hours ensconced in a railway carriage with just your imagination, a laptop and the high-speed views of the Great American outdoors to inspire you. Like the premise of so many good residency programs, there’s nothing better to do than write, that is, once the dining car bar has closed. For two to five days join the ranks of writers who have penned great work on trains, such as novelist Alexander Chee, who kick started this campaign after a casual remark in his PEN Ten interview.There has been some debate over the fine print, so consider the terms carefully before you apply.
Winners will be selected through March 31, 2015; Apply here.
The Carpenter Ranch in Colorado
Like a literary remake of City Slickers, The Colorado Art Ranch will fulfill your American West fantasies by offering residencies on a working cattle ranch to a group of artists and writers. Each resident is assigned a local Art Buddy to get them orientated and facilitate their interaction with the community. At the end of your time you present your work at the Artposita (that’s a little Artposium, for those unsure). This is just one of many AIRs offered by the Colorado Art Ranch, who move between remote spots across the state.
Next residency programme runs between September 1st to 30th with the deadline for applications June 1, 2014; coloradoartranch.org
Jack Kerouac House
Follow in Kerouc’s footsteps
The weight of literary heritage can either weigh heavily on your shoulders or inspire. The Kerouac Project aims for the latter, offering four three-month residencies a year in the Orlando cottage where Jack himself wrote Dharma Bums. They give you an $800 food stipend and all utilities are included, meaning you can focus on writing your masterpiece, while trying not to compare yourself to Kerouac at every other word. You’re encouraged to participate with the Central Florida Community through readings and workshops, as well.
Apply throughout the year at kerouacproject.org
Take to the parks
Most writers’ at some point hanker for total isolation away from the distraction and temptation of fellow humanity. The National Parks Service offers just that. Each of the 50 participating parks’ AIR programs has a unique set-up: the four-week Glacier National Park’s cabin has views of Lake McDonald and the snow-peaked mountains beyond; or Denali National Park and Preserve sends you to the East Fork cabin to write in the total wilderness without running water or electricity. The notable Headlands AIR program might suit the less intrepid, located just outside San Francisco, which is currently accepting applications for 2015.
Each park has its own application procedure and dates; nps.gov/getinvolved/artist-in-residence.htm
Hole up in a hotel room
Thomas Wolfe wrote two novels at New York’s Chelsea Hotel, Tennessee Williams wrote his last play A House Not Meant to Stand at the Elysee, and Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas lived in the Washington Square Hotel (then the Hotel Earle) after being removed from his previous hotel for debauchery. Perhaps it is this long and occasionally checkered history that inspired The Standard, in partnership with The Paris Review, to offer its Writer-in-Residence program. For the first three weeks in July 2014, the East Village hotel will provide a room free of charge to a writer already under contract. Though with all the salubrious pleasures of Downtown NYC on your doorstep, discipline will be paramount.
The submission period for 2014 is now closed, so get your material ready for next year; theparisreview.org/standardculture
Shakespeare & Company
And further afield:
For the bohemian: Paris’ historic Shakespeare & Company allows writers to sleep in the bookshop as long as they dedicate a certain number of hours to stacking shelves and giving readings. shakespeareandcompany.com
For the escapist: You can’t get further from civilization than the Antarctic. The National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program hosts writers and artists in extreme conditions who are engaging with projects surrounding the southernmost continent. nsf.gov
For a cultural exchange: The Sanskriti Foundation has over seven acres of land on the foothills of the Aravali range, and has hosted over 600 artists, writers and scholars since 1993. Through their local network, they will facilitate collaborations with your local Indian creative counterparts. sanskritifoundation.org