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Probably not the right place but....writer's residency. Can someone advise?

(9 Posts)
user1491572121 Sun 14-May-17 12:07:22

I couldn't think of a more appropriate area. I'm what people call an "emerging writer". I've had some short fiction and poetry published and some comedy sketches broadcast.

I applied to undertake a residency in a venue which is usually only for visual artists but which decided this year to have a writer.

I was invited to work there for three months. There is a tiny payment...not even enough to cover expenses...which I am fine with as I really just wanted the chance to work's a beautiful venue.

I'm 2 months in and feel anxious and stressed about the whole thing. There is a visual artist there too and the "curator" of the venue keeps calling meetings to discuss progress and "the opening".

I feel as though they have no idea of what a writer in residence actually does.

I've explained my process etc and that as a writer, the "opening" will be a bit odd for me...but they've just said that they want me to do a reading of my work at the opening and that will be fine.

I'm a bit worried because it's very much work in progress and what I have so far will seem a bit strange out of context.

The curator is "in charge" of my residency but she's not very...relatable. I was very sick on Friday and had to message to say I couldn't go to a meeting but she didn't even message me back to say she had the message or wish me well.

I sent both an email and a text so I know she got it.

I am so anxious about it all and what should have been a great chance to concentrate has turned into a worry!

Were my expectations so far out of the reality?

user1491572121 Sun 14-May-17 22:50:21


Foureyesarebetterthantwo Sun 14-May-17 23:05:53

user what's worrying you the most about this situation? It does sound rather stressful, having to produce something for a particular event, although when we have artists in residence at work, they usually do do a show/event at some point- I think having it at three months might be what's stressing you out rather than perhaps being a looser arrangement. Can you ask about whether there's flexibility on this?

user1491572121 Mon 15-May-17 00:55:30

Thanks Four....there's no flexibility. I suppose I feel like an experiment because I'm the first writer they've had. I have no idea what people will expect!

Do you have writers in residence at your place of work? Or visual artists?

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Mon 15-May-17 10:45:18

Only visual artists I think, though we once did have a poet. I would speak to them about the opening, perhaps it doesn't need to be at the end of the three months exactly, anyone that knows artists knows that sometimes production of work isn't exact time-wise (just like academics and their writing) and that some leeway to get a finalized product may be needed.

This sounds stressful- just remember they haven't paid you almost anything and you are doing them a massive favour as much as they are doing you one.

Also remember 'good enough' is good enough, you don't need to produce a masterpiece after three months, just enough to read for 5 minutes or whatever, then say something reflective about your experience of being there.

I think you think they are expecting Nobel Prize winning literature, they are not and you may find that what you have already done is enough.

Be firm with the curator too, they are not the boss of you but there to facilitate!

FinallyHere Mon 15-May-17 11:21:39

I can see this from both sides, they will want 'something' in the programme for the opening and you are concerned about writing to a (pretty unreasonable) deadline. One way forward would be for you facilitate 'something' for the opening, and schedule your reading for, say, a year after the start of the residency. A focus on community participation is usually a popular way forward and you are in a position to suggest a range of things that would might like to do, and ignore anything that you would not..

Depending on the demographic they are trying to attract, you could run a poetry competition, maybe with different age categories. The finalists could have their poem displayed at the opening, or the shortlisted entries could be performed to an invited audience (free event). Or a poetry slam. Run a workshop (again, picking the appropriate age group) for people to write their own poem (or prose, naturally) and then all read their work in progress at the end (to each other, to an invited audience (free event)) or invite one or two to join you (to read one short piece) at your one year later reading.

Not necessarily poetry, other forms of writing are available. The events which encourage user participation are often wildly successful and might, if it were of interest to you, provide you with a regular slot in future. I recognise that this may not appeal to you, but i decided ti mention it just in case.

I'm sure you will have experience of the type of exercises which are suitable for workshops... but if not, let me know and I can PM some resources.

I am sorry that you have had such an uncomfortable experience in your residency. I do hope that you can find a way forward that works for the venue and that you can live with. All the best.

user1491572121 Mon 15-May-17 11:56:04

Thank you...both Four and Finally. I think I feel better now smile

I've fulfilled my community engagement but would definitely love to hear about the exercises you've mentioned Finally...that would be great as there might be another opportunity coming up where I could use the resources you mention.

Thanks so much both.

FinallyHere Mon 15-May-17 14:07:25

HI, At home, from way back, I have a pack of cards, with one exercise on each card, plus a bit of background / suggestions on when it might be useful. The 'pack of cards' format is for those moments, when you just can't decide, to encourage you to 'just pick one'

While away from home, I did a quick google (which didn't really exist when I was involved in training and development) and discovered quite a few, of which my 'favourite' does include the exercises I tend to fall back on, so you are all good with these.

Hope you find some useful

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user1491572121 Mon 15-May-17 22:53:18

Brilliant! Thanks so much!

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