With my time almost up at beautiful RANCHO MILAGROS I am happy to have made significant progress on my novel. It’s taken me three rewrites of the first draft to get it where it is now, the most fun revision of all: number four, in which I unhitch the story from narrative chronology. Productive times. I even managed to sneak in a draft of a short story my first week here, one I’d been thinking about during the long drive out west from New York with my family. Hour for hour, the majority of my writing happens not at a desk, but in the waiting times between sessions—cooking, driving, walking the dog, waiting to fall asleep. However, being unencumbered by the daily grind of our lives in Brooklyn, and having an outstanding partner who tells me to go work instead of entertain our son, I’m at the desk a lot more, and I can see the difference.
Before last week, for various reasons, I hadn’t touched my novel in six months. I had compiled and organized a ton of notes, but didn’t open the .docx. Part of the reason was my stellar readers were still fine-toothing it. I wanted to hear their thoughts and edits before I resumed nitpicking through the manuscript myself. Another reason was that I needed distance from the thing. I started working on it after my son was born in early 2014, though I can track the initial impetus for the story to a moment, frozen in my memory, when I was traveling in Europe ten years ago. I even have a picture of myself taken at that moment. Like this cross-country trip to this magical place—Abiquiu, New Mexico—I took that trip to stoke a little art-flame into my life. And it has worked now as much as it did back then.
It’s a lot harder to stoke art-flames amidst parental (and pet) duties. Everything is given over, every spare ounce of energy and attention, the freshest and tastiest morsels of food to nurture this creature outside of your ego. There are a precious few artist residencies in the world that accept applications from parents bringing spouses and pets. SSB—Susan, Quintan, and Matthew—built the space for me to pursue this long, side-winding project that has dominated the last couple years of my life, and changed the course of my art work from performance, primarily, to writing. Without this residency, I’m not sure it would have been so easy to change my sleep schedule to wake up at dawn, or to re-acquaint myself with the characters, layers, and paranoiac urgency of this novel. I’m back in the groove. Thanks SSB, big time. And thank you to Creative Capital for supporting the travel, and the financial burden of renting another place nearby so we can prolong our trip.
Post by Arturo Vidich