Day Seven at @Ragdale

And we hit the week mark, which means six days left before I officially pack up and a day later leave. How's progress been? you ask. Meh is my response. Why? you further inquire. Well, let's review the past few days.

The Pros

The other residents here are GREAT. They have wonderful energy. Are super supportive, polite, and kind. We all have a genuine interest in one another's work and we've been bonding on our goals, concerns, and insecurities. Even though we've only known each other a few days there's a comfort there that results in you just letting lose and divulging things that you realize others feel too. It's a great comfort and can help ease you into things as you take a moment to consider where you are in your work and what you hope to accomplish, not just during your time here but over the long haul.

Most of us saw what the visual artists were working on on Saturday and it was very rejuvenating and cool to see in general. Learning about their process and what they are trying to say through their art was great.

The food is freaking AMAZING. Linda Mitchell is the chef on grounds during the week and she is like a second mom. She is warm and friendly and actually loves her job. She is considerate of all our food requirements and makes these delicious meals every day and enough to make sure we're well taken care of over the weekend (when she has off). Her personality is enough to brighten your overall day. It's like she radiates it through and through, her blond hair further emphasis of her great personality. Love Linda. She takes good care of us.

The prairie is my meditation spot nowadays. I loves it. It's beautiful, though portions were recently burnt to get rid of unsavory critters. But for two days straight I went out there and found various benches and just hung out for a couple of hours, which was a nice distraction and point for me to just silence my mind. Surprisingly, I get very good reception here in Lake Forest so I spoke with my grandmother and buddy out in the prairie on a bench. Good, sunny, bonding-with-nature times.

The Cons room is not the best placed for optimum quiet. Again, this is where I was spoiled by Jentel. At Jentel your living space and work space were separated by yards and silence. The staff worked in a house a decent distance away from us and very much understood our need for privacy and separation to work. The creator of Jentel, Neltje, understood that as an artist.

Ragdale is an Illinois landmark. So while certain areas have been reconstructed, like the visual artist's studio The Meadow, the main areas like the Ragdale Barn (where I reside) has not. Ragdale has been renovated but not so much restructured for things like noise limitations. And so, we (residents) share our work/living space with the staff during much of the week, starting as early as 8am going through 5pm. And I must point out that Ragdale has a super friendly and kind staff.

So this has impeded on me getting the entirety of silence and calm I had expected. However the weekend has been dead and very pleasant.

Now, I cannot blame all my inactivity on the lack of quiet. I am somewhat blocked people. Yes! I know! How inopportune is that. Especially for a residency I'm paying for.

I dunno if I'd say I'm blocked exactly but it is a form of being blocked in that anything I write for the most part I am not satisfied with. I came here hoping to completely draft three stories I had yet to finish for my Collection. But instead I was blank when it came to how these scenes would continue. I kept editing what I had and editing that until I closed one document and opened another. I removed notes I inserted for myself and just tried to focus but was just not getting in the zone.

So I resigned myself to the fact that I may just have to edit stuff for the remainder of my time here unless something hits me that I'd actually be able to just scribe anew.

If you've read my interview with WOW's The Muffin when I write I get in a 'zone.' This is something that hit me consistently, yet not everyday, at Jentel. I would sit, open a document and for hours I simply wrote. And when I looked back at it was thinking "Ah, not so bad!"

But now, for three stories in particular I am just...argh.

Saturday proved to be a productive day and a story, the first in the collection, I've been struggling with worked itself out but by page 10 I was all out of mojo and so brought up another story to edit. I've been cutting like crazy but haven't been able to sit down and streamline. We'll see how the next few days go.

What else have I been up to? Since I finished the latest draft of the YA book I have been drafting and redrafting query letters for that. I wrote a new flash fiction piece on Saturday (I spent 6+ solid hours writing/editing that day!) and have read a lot of Tiny Beautiful Things and talked often with the other residents.

Saturday evening some of us residents also went and saw Joan of Arc, which is a band one of the most recently departing residents leads at Lake Forest College. We also learned that in small towns things close early even on a Saturday.

On Sunday I met up with two peeps from the Glen West Workshop, Thomas and Deborah and we hit up The Bagel in Skokie, IL. Fun times, great service, good food.

So that about sums up the past few days. Wish me luck that I break into some kind of creative sprint during my remaining time here and if not we'll see what Brush Creek brings.