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On Writing Residencies

The facilities at Instituto Sacatar (taken from http://www.sacatar.org/)

Or rather, should I apply for a writer’s residence?

It was in the course of applying for a bursary from the Scottish Book Trust that I discovered that perhaps I should be looking into other facets of the writing life – under the section ‘Tips on creating a Writer’s C.V.‘ was this paragraph:

“Awards and Achievements: List any competitions you’ve won or writing residencies, festivals and writing events that you’ve been invited to or participated in.”

Never mind that the notion of a writer’s C.V. (as something distinct from a normal work C.V.) had not occurred to me at that point – now I had to deal with the fact that perhaps I should have been taking part in a host of other activities, besides lying on the bed writing. Competitions, yes, I had entered those. I’d placed second in a small one, the Dan Hemingway Prize, and I’d won a bottle of wine from The Kelvingrove Review for a flash piece I did under a pseudonym. Perfectly valid credits, even if not quite nationally renowned. I’d also read a poem at a Stanza open mic event, back when I was an undergraduate, but the record was a bit thin there…then we come to writing residencies.

As a writer at the beginning of her career, I hadn’t thought at all about residencies. Surely they are for writers who have two or three books out there? My lecturers at university had been on residencies. On the back flap of the cool, sparse novel it says, the writer spent three months in silence communing with the seals and saltlicked icebergs off the coast of Greenland in preparing this novel. With thanks to the Amazing Exclusive Greenland Writers Advancement Programme.

But perhaps I should have a look, just in case there is a programme willing to support a young writer who would also like to commune (possibly with scenic forests/mountains/medieval towns,, not picky though)? It would have to be free, and if far afield, would have to provide airfare. Step in… UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for the Arts. Where would you like to write, all expenses paid: France, Brazil or New Delhi?  Only if you are a published author between the ages of 25-35, were born and living in Africa, Asia, Russia, the former Soviet Republics, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and/or the Pacific Islands, or are working on a project relevant to a period of study in India, respectively.  I hope there is someone out there who fits with one of these programmes, as they all look quite marvelous.

The search, for me, continues.

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