I have always dreamed sort of halfheartedly of going on a writing retreat — space, solitude, time to write.
My father was a MacDowell Colony fellow, and twice when I was a child he went off to New Hampshire, leaving behind his loud and annoying family to work on whatever it was that he was working on: articles for the Nation or Catholic Digest or North American Review.
I remember him coming home after a couple of weeks and telling me how wonderful it had been, a little stone cabin in the woods, just him and a typewriter, someone bringing him a covered lunch at noon — padding up the path, not knocking, not disturbing him, an artist at work, just leaving food on the doorstep and tiptoeing away.
Someday, I thought, I’m going to do that.
But I never have. I’ve never even tried. I like my house. I like my dogs. I got married, and I like my husband, who is neither loud nor annoying. I don’t want to go away.
But look at the brilliant thing the Banfill-Locke Artists Center in Fridley is doing: hosting a writer-in-residence for an 18-month stint, and the chosen person gets to both stay home and go on retreat.
That sweet arts center — a beautiful 170-year-old building that was once an inn and a stagecoach stop — will provide a writing studio and a stipend of $1,500. You do not have to live there. Actually, you can’t live there. This is not a residential retreat, but an every-day-for-a-year-and-a-half retreat.
Every day you go and stare out at Manomin Park and the Mississippi River and sink down in an easy chair and admire the art on the walls and work on whatever you are working on — articles for the Nation and Catholic Digest and North American Review, maybe. Or poetry. Or a novel. Or a graphic novel. Or a memoir. Any genre will be considered.
And every night, you go back home to your house and your dog.
The obligations of the writer-in-residence are few: First, to write, there. Then, to meet with a monthly writing group. And, finally, to plan a June event. That’s pretty much it.
Applications are due by midnight April 15. (So much more fun than filing your taxes.)
The term will begin July 1 and run through Dec. 31, 2017. Details are available on the Banfill-Locke website at tinyurl.com/hvsdr2v.
You’ll have to make your own lunch. But other than that, it’s the MacDowell Colony transplanted to Fridley. Go for it. I’ll be happy for you, and a bit jealous.
Write to us!
Is this the summer you’re finally going to tackle “War and Peace?” Or maybe you plan to spend the warm months reading nothing but trashy paperbacks from the 1960s. Or maybe this will be the Summer of Mysteries. Let us know. We’re planning our summer books section, and we’d love to hear what you hope to read this summer, and why. Drop us a line at books@ startribune.com. Include your name and city. Spread the joy of reading.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks.