Orcas ArtSmith Residency Day by Day

Orcas Residency Day 1: long, long travel day to Orcas Island. Taxi driver tour of the “main points in town,” did some major editing for 2 hrs, then had a fabulous (vegan!) dinner and great conversation with our host and fellow attendees. Wish I could stay here for a month. or a year.

Orcas Residency Day 2: woke up to dark (except 1/4 moon). Currently rediscovering: there is such a thing as too much coffee (even fancy WA State coffee). Fixed the sudden laptop crash. Currently hacking the novel into tiny pieces – somewhat inspired by the sound of a chainsaw in the distance.

Orcas Residency Day #3: woke up to dark again. This whole late sunrise thing is a drag. Smell of coffee got me out of bed. The quiet here leaves my ears feeling like I’ve been holding shells to them all night. Spent the morning drinking coffee and discussing Ph.D. programs and critical theory with our host. May go for a walk in the rain soon or just inside looking out at dripping trees. Oh & writing. Splitting my manuscript open like an overripe peach & digging out the rot.

Orcas Residency Day #4: up early and went with the group up to Cascade Falls. Hiked the lake loop hike (5? miles) and part of another hike before my knee gave out. Then back to K. House for hot tub and shower and dinner and some weird modern version of the exquisite corpse game. And now, time to write.

Orcas Residency Day #5: can’t believe how quickly the time has passed here. This morning woke up to a 5am call from my vet’s office. Mina is sick (still) but in good hands. I wrote all morning until my back was screaming. Headed out into the cold for a walk to the beach where I found many interesting things including a partial view of REAL mountains. Stuck my toes in the ocean and then was joined by Nancy Lord who told me it was too cold. We walked back while she looked at birds (red winged blackbirds, starlings, chickadees, thrush, a very fat robin, and some harlequin ducks). I went off to soak in the hot tub and now more writing. We’re all heading out to Doe Bay for dinner tonight and then it’s down to the final stretch.

Orcas Residency Day #5: one window shows blue sky, the other shows grey. About to have more coffee and head down to the beach to look for mountains. And then, back here to write and write some more.

Today is apparently David Bowie’s birthday. I spent most of it sitting at the beach, staring at mountains, writing bad poetry and listening to Calexico. And now I’m going to listen to more Calexico and write some (hopefully) good fiction. Sorry Bowie. Maybe later.

Orcas Residency Day #5 (part 2): day started with coffee and writing then beach (!!) where there was some blue sky and also, mountains. I wrote a poem at the beach and met a new dog friend. Then back to the house for more writing followed by a field trip with the awesome non-fiction Alaskan writer Nancy Long to the Island Hoppin’ Brewery where we shared a flight of beer and made friends with some local school teachers. Then back home for more writing followed by another wonderful home-cooked meal. After dinner, we each shared some of the work we’ve done while here – really powerful writing – and then talked until late. I will indeed miss these new writerly friends of mine.

Orcas Residency Day #6: last full day at the residency. Got up early and had breakfast with our host and a couple fellow writers then I walked down to the beach. Sun reflecting off all the melting frost. The beach is cold but there’s a clear blue sky and a full view of the mountains. Only seabirds for company. Back now for more coffee and some writing. This afternoon, we’ll be at the East Sound Library joining their writers’ group then dinner in town and likely back here for a last night of quiet and writing. The long trip back to Seattle tomorrow and then back to NYC.

Orcas Residency Day #6: settling in for some writing after a long day. Started out with coffee and then a trip to the beach to stare at Mt. Baker. After that: coffee and more writing. Then walked to East Sound with Nancy Lord, stopped at the book store and bought one of her books. We met the other writers at the Library where ArtSmith’s Jill facilitated a very packed writing round table focused on “place.” Lots of creative people on this island. I read two very short pieces and got some kind words from some locals. Overall a good afternoon of hearing and sharing work. Then we had a great Mexican meal followed by some hot tub time and now wrapping up another long day of writing and enjoying the culture and nature on this beautiful island. Tomorrow two of us head back to the mainland (Anacortes, then Seattle) and too soon, I will be back in NYC.


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