I was reluctant to accept my place at the Faberllull Residency (Catalonia, Spain) in late April. Already, I had relied so much on the support and forbearance of friends to get through a longer-than-anticipated drought in freelance contracted work since November. Moreover, despite the offer of lodging and meals, I could not see past the practicalities of also needing to cover the costs of international transportation and local logistics. My decision to confirm my participation in the residency in Northeastern Spain was a decision to see my lot as decidedly half-full.
The weeklong residency, first, lent me space to pivot and to retreat. My writing had grown timid and stale amidst the many months of grief and rejection (full-time job search, freelance contracts search, and PhD program), and now with wide-open days at a four-star hotel retreat, I worked at a desk facing a lush mountain valley. In the afternoons, I put down my work and went on runs up large, windy hills; lending my process a bit of grounding and balance before picking up work again later.
Though I arrived with one goal in mind, to shape some unedited chapters into a finished book proposal (or the sample chapters, book plan, market research, and introductory letter that agents use in their dealings with publishers on behalf of the author), I think the biggest reflections about my work came through a lecture, which the Institute Ramon Llull (the sponsoring organization) asked me to give about my debut book’s main topic – what I refer to as modern challenges to democratic governance (social inequality, political polarization, and climate change are examples). There I had the chance to defend my opinions, answer questions, clarify my storytelling approach, and also to see that when my book is finally in its finished form that there will be audiences of many national backgrounds ready to receive it.
Still, and maybe, most importantly, the residency lent me the chance to be in community with nine other residents. We were musicians, dramaturgists, podcasters, *a former MasterChef Australia host, academics, and writers, and it was fulfilling to see that at a base level we all shared similar sentiments about our respective projects and navigating life’s practicalities. (We were similarly giddy about having precious time to work on them during the retreat.) What’s more, with colleagues hailing places as far afield as Tunisia, Ukraine, and Finland, Spain, and the United States, our conversations every night at dinner were always riveting.
Now, in order to make strategic use of my progress at the residency, I am making the choice to tack on two weeks to my residency week. Indeed, the decision to forgo heading back home to family is so that I can keep my focus on my book writing progress. Additionally, I want to leverage some recently located clarity towards once-discarded writing for use in my public writing. Specifically, I will be launching my Demos Substack, a companion blog to my book project, officially on June 3rd.