Newsletter 032 – February 10, 2023
Back in December I applied for a writer’s residency at Cove Park, Scotland. Cove Park is an international artists residency center located on a 50-acre rural site about twenty miles northwest of Glasgow. I hope to be granted a four-week residency there to work on my novel, The Hawthorn’s Sting. Considering the competitiveness of the grant, it’s highly likely I won’t be awarded it, but my current plan is to not make any other plans until I hear whether I have or not. By the time you get this email I should know one way or the other. I’ll let you know in the next newsletter.
So, why would I apply for something that will take me away from the comfort of my own home, and the regularity of my self-imposed schedule, to spend a month traveling thousands of miles away to work on my novel in a foreign country? For several reasons. First, it wouldn’t cost me anything but my time. The residency is funded so I would get a stipend for my travel costs plus a generous weekly allowance that should cover all my food and other expenses. Second, it would allow me to complete a lot of in-person research that I didn’t have time to do when Minay and I visited the UK in 2010. Third, it would get me a step closer to finishing a novel that has only been partially written, but has been on my mind for nearly a decade.
In the proposal I asked for a four-week residency, with two weeks of that spent at the center itself. I suggested that I could spend the first week in England doing on-the-ground research before I arrived at the center in Scotland. Since much of the novel takes place in the southwest of England (in Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset) I could do research there on my way north to Scotland, then spend the two weeks at Cove Park using that research to work on the novel. After I left there I would have a week to get back to London and catch my flight home. Since one of the major elements in the book is the Bayeux Tapestry, I also suggested that I could take a day trip to France to see the tapestry itself (it’s housed in a museum in the city of (…wait for it) Bayeux.
But to get back to the question of why I would give up my cozy home office to head off to another country and live out of a suitcase for a month, it’s true that I could research parts of the book on the Internet, of course, and I will do that. But there still are elements of the plot (Hawthorn’s Sting is a mystery) that will be better if I can personally examine certain things. I need to be able to interview the promoters of the Glastonbury Festival, and also discuss Brexit and tin mining with some experts, but those can be done online if necessary. I would very much, though, like to stand on the site of some of the locales that will be used in the novel and take photographs and video (and maybe record some audio notes about what I’m witnessing). All of that will be useful for jogging my memory when I sit down at the computer and start writing.
The final reason for applying for the residency is because it is something that will greatly benefit my writing career. Also, the best way to guarantee that I won’t succeed in being awarded something like a residency is to not apply in the first place, and not even trying would be something I would regret.
The next newsletter is about what’s happening with my novella, Flood and Fire. See you then.
[“Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened…”
T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, 1935.]
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