For a week, all I had to do was write—and that’s what I did!
The Heartland Spa, where I spent my writer residency, is surrounded by beautiful Illinois farmland, not far from a little town called Gilman. I ate healthy, low calorie, delicious meals and snacks, prepared by someone else! I had a comfortable, quiet room in which to write. The spa included an exercise room, a pool and hot tub, a walking/running track, a labyrinth, a nature trail around a lake, and even a paddleboat and water tricycle. It was an awesome place.
This is the Writers’ Building, where I stayed.
I met some remarkable people. I shared mealtimes and evenings with three brilliant young women who were also chosen for the writing residency. All of them were powerful writers and wonderful people who tolerated this old woman with grace and good humor. (Two of them were thirty year olds, and one was forty, so I certainly felt my age, but it was enlightening to hear a younger perspective throughout the week.) The staff took care of the writers in every possible way, and the spa guests showed interest in our writing and supported our work. The two women who put together this residency and raised the money to support it, Patricia and Charlotte, thought of everything necessary to make the experience a success. (They even arranged for each of us to have a massage!)
The time available for uninterrupted thinking about my novel was incredibly valuable. I spent many hours clarifying the characters and their motivations and figuring out the novel’s structure. I revised and rewrote a great deal, and I wrote some new chapters. This novel is coming together.
A couple of times my muse seemed to be missing; I suspect that she was off getting a massage or a facial. But for the most part, she hung around my little room and helped me find ways through the maze.
I made some interesting observations about writing (and my life) during the week, but I’ll save them for another post. For now, I’ll just say how grateful I am for this opportunity. I could not have asked for a better experience. It was amazing.