When I mentioned an upcoming residency on Facebook, several people asked, “What’s a writer’s residency?”
A residency involves collaboration between a writer and the community. Every experience is unique, but in this case I had the great good fortune to enjoy a residency with Write On, Door County.
The organization’s mission is to facilitate and promote writing in Door County by nurturing the work of writers, supporting readers and audiences, and developing opportunities that encourage broad participation. In two short years Write On has accomplished great things, with more projects underway.
My visit began with a week of solitude to write in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin.
I arrived with a looming deadline for my current American Girl project, so I spent the first several days pounding the keyboard. With no distractions, I got it done in good time.
Write On includes almost 40 serene acres. When I needed thinking time, I wandered the property.
Write On has plans to create a center where writers will be nourished, readers encouraged, and the stories of our land shared for generations to come. The design is awesome—for example, instead of demolishing this old farmhouse, the silhouette will be preserved. (Hard to describe, but the plans are impressive.)
My visit happened to coincide with a special program held in honor of UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day , February 21. (The date corresponds to the day in 1952 when university students in present-day Bangladesh were killed while demonstrating for recognition of Bengali as one of two national languages of East Pakistan.)
Write On sponsored a poetry reading at the Miller Art Museum in Sturgeon Bay.
Local residents read poetry in Polish, German, Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Hungarian, Romanian, and Walloon. Listening to languages I do not speak let me hear their cadence and rhythm. The program was lovely and thought-provoking.
The following weekend I was involved in a program with the Peninsula Music Festival‘s FebFest. Almost a year ago organizers invited me to participate in a concert of Nordic music, inspired by the Scandinavian themes in the Chloe Ellefson mysteries—especially The Light Keeper’s Legacy.
Four musicians performed pieces by Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish composers.
I read excerpts from the Chloe novels that emphasized the power of place, and closed with a poem.
We talked about artists of all kinds who were inspired by their landscape. We talked about the elements music and writing share. It was a special afternoon.
On my final day I taught a workshop called Writing Your Family Stories, Your Way. It was a diverse group, united in a wish to capture family history. I hope everyone left inspired to keep writing.
I certainly did! I’m grateful to Write On, Door County for this opportunity.
Write On, Door County offers many special programs. Not local? Combine a vacation to Door County with a writing workshop. Check the Programs page for more details.