Monday, March 16, 2009

VCCA, Week Three...A Sad Goodbye

I can’t rhapsodize enough about my three weeks here at VCCA. Being obsessive, of course I set some goals for myself, which I thought were pretty on target. Wrong—I far exceeded what I had hoped to accomplish, and now feel grounded in my new novel, having generated a great deal of first draft pages that I can now review and revise here at home (before summer school starts up!).

I loved the “room of one’s own” that I occupied—for those of you who have been here, I was in the “corn crib,” a cozy little dollhouse set on stilts (if you’re imaginative they look like stilts) that has the advantage of being a stand-alone building, which means I didn’t hear anyone else and they didn’t hear you. The disadvantage might be that the windows are not at desk level, but that meant that I didn’t spend a lot of time staring out the window at cows and such—but that every now and then when I glanced up I had the perfect view of hawks wheeling across the sky. I loved listening to the varied birds staking out their territory and calling for new girlfriends, and in the evening I listened to the spring peepers (frogs), and I even heard an owl calling one night. (Yes, they really do say, “Who.”)

Also, my bedroom was pretty awesome too as it was one of the two bedrooms designed for artist couples, so it was larger than the ordinary rooms, I had my own bathroom, and—best of all!—I had a double bed instead of a twin. Needless to say, this isn’t something to go around bragging about as it’s all the luck of the draw, but I was pretty happy to have gotten so lucky.

I’m not sure I could be here in the spring, though. The warm weather distracted many people, and it’s definitely harder to stay inside when it’s 75 degrees vs. 30 degrees. As I left, I noticed that several flowering trees were starting to bloom. Maybe the solution would be to bring the kind of work that is portable and shift to editing outside…though I’m still not sure I could keep my eyes on my paper.

I also enjoy meeting other writers and visual artists. Mealtime conversations are lively and range from the ridiculous to the sublime; it's an initmate and pleasureable way to be introduced to a wide range of thought-provoking work.

Finally, and ultimately, it's uplifting to be ensconced in (literally, I barely left) a place that values art and creativity and believes in creating and offering the time and space needed for that sort of work. Count on this: I will be back!

The next application deadline is May 15 for fall residencies. I can only imagine how beautiful it is here in the fall, with the Blue Ridge Mountains off in the distance. And for those with the travel bug, check out the programs VCCA offers in France! Details can be found on the website:


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.