I’ve recently returned from a 2 and 1/2 week artist’s residency at the Ragdale Farm near Lake Michigan in Illinois. During those precious days, while the snow and ice did their work outside, I did mine inside. The quiet of this magnificent place helped me lie a clean path for revising my novel. My characters in China in particular emerged distinct, and I was able to pare around them like a sculptor who finally sees the faces hidden in the grains of a rock she holds in her hand.
By late afternoon each day, I left my writing sanctuary in the spacious Radale house and wandered the prairie. A storm had swept through prior to my arrival. Temperatures well below zero farenheit turned the world outside sharp and new. For the first time in years, I had to wear winter boots, long underwear, and a down coat. I loved it. Camera in hand, I set out thinking about the next chapter, feeling my way through characters who grew up in the frozen north before setting out for to China. Camera in hand, I followed my line of thought and miles of paths at Ragdale that traverse virgin prairie for sometimes two hours each day. It was a thrill, both the journey out and the journey in.
Since returning home, I can see the final pieces of my novel finally snapping together, but I miss the intense caring of the staff at Ragdale and the community of artists I sat down with at dinner each night. The chef, Linda, made us gourmet meals.Before we seized our plates at the buffet, she would describe to us what we would eat. Poetry, it felt like, the lush scents and her voice. We were hungry, all of these dedicated writers and painters, for everything we were given at this fine artists’ colony. We talked in hushed tones or whooped with laughter. We created in sanctuary together, and we were grateful.
To learn more about applying for your own artist’s residency at Ragdale go to http://www.ragdale.org/residency