Jentel Artist Residency: Week 2 (Settling in)

The second week, first too, brought a lot of settling in to creativity and how we'll be doing things. Many of us have gotten into a routine of regular working hours. When the sun is up we're at our most productive, shuttling back and forth from our studios to the residence and vice versa. By the time 5pm comes or as the sun starts to set (and for me the sun setting means sun directly in-my-eye) work winds down and we head in to eat and converse for the evening. Many times some of the visual artists will head back out to the studios and keep working into the late evening. That's dedication. For the most part we do get together and eat every evening, especially if someone is cooking (which we've decided will happen every other day) but sometimes someone has an excess of something or needs to use produce they didn't realize was going to go bad and BAM we all get fed unexpectedly. These are good moments.

On Sunday, we had an Easter feast. Rachel made hootnie (something she learned how to make during her travels in Asia and Europe) which is a kind of bread/custard dish that tastes great with maple syrup. I made basil lime fruit salad a la Cooking Light 2009 book and who knew that mixing basil and lime rind together produces a kind of minty flavor, and in simple syrup, again BAM.

We also had some turkey bacon and there you go a nice breakfast that got us set for the work day. By evening we each signed up for our respective items. I was to do blondies but realized that having two desserts might be a bit much and made these several days earlier for people to consume and enjoy. There was ham, mashed sweet potatoes, apple tart, asparagus w/ hollandaise, steak (pour moi), and deviled eggs. Good times!

Again, I know I diverge from the reason for my stay to food. As per the norm. My apologies.

So what have I gotten done you ask? Well, lots. It's amazing how much gets done when you don't have the rest of life interrupting you. We were interviewed to talk about Jentel by the local press. A quote I didn't even realize I'd said that appeared in the April 23rd edition of The Sheridan PressI was noted as saying that we all came here with some aspirations and that I find myself more productive because well, just this place really. So I have to say that those who created residencies, and to Neltje who solely funds this from her own bank account, are the most wonderful people on God's green earth. Yes, so are humanitarians and the Red Cross, but you get my drift.

I didn't really start getting creative (albeit work on The Collection and other writing) until the Monday after I arrived. On Saturday I just explored and typed up an outline for a YA novel I want to start during NaNoWriMo this year. The day after I edited and edited some flash fiction and the day after that the same. After which I finally decided to turn to the collection and work on that for several days straight. Last Friday I ended up doing 10,000 words for the collection, the day after that editing pages and writing material for five hours straight. Easter Sunday lead to me working on some other pieces to submit and have submitted two pieces within five days of each other. I received a request from a friend who's working with an editor on an anthology to send her some of my work and Lorraine (fellow writing resident) said she'd like to see me submit something to the lit mag she's the fiction editor for because she's like what she's heard of my work.

If I quantified the work I've been doing in hours (and yes I'll subtract all the time spent on Twitter and Facebook, reading Hunger Games casting updates, writing e-mails to friends and family, checking work e-mail or even doing work and even reading up on the news) I'd say I spent four to five hours a day writing/editing solidly since last Monday to now. Amazing yes? I think so.

This week also brought some more media. After seeing my face splat on the front page of The Sheridan Press on Saturday we were informed on Monday that the local media from KOTATV wanted to come in and do a piece on Jentel also. Hoorah! So we waited around and were filmed doing stuff. In my case I took a day off from being creative and was customizing InDesign files for work, so KOTATV has a nice few minutes of me updating a primary ESL book.

Other than that we've been experience more snow and rain and cold and chills, but the sun always comes out to melt said snow and dry up, at least partially, said wetness. It's amazing how fickle Mother Nature can be. But on one of the two or three nice days we had this week I did make a trip up towards the 1000 acres (big hiking ground in our backyard, literally) and got some lovely views from afar. I didn't make it too far because it was almost dinner time and frankly, kind of windy. But I did see many cows--that ran off as soon as they saw my camera. Darn, camera shy cattle.

And during the weekly trip into town I also took a few minutes to visit the sacred saddle museum. For saddle enthusiasts this is quite a treat, but for others it's interesting to see a lot of saddles and guns and bullets in one central location and for only a suggested donation of $2.

There was a lot of material of guns and carriages and saddles used during various wars on U.S. soil. One of my favorite pieces was this:

I also got a kick at seeing some of the Native American apparel and paraphernalia. Rachel (textile artist) has a friend who has been showing her the sights of Wyoming so she's definitely one to go to in terms of learning more about areas where Custer's last stand was and also about the goings-on in Buffalo, WY. We got a nice tour of the town of Big Horn and the mountains seemed to be coming towards us. Absolutely beautiful. One of the sights I'll miss most is of looking outside my window and seeing mountains all over. NYC just can't compare.

Well, Friday marks the halfway point for us and we're none too happy about that. But I'll try to abstain from talking about it until we hit week 3! *sigh*

Hope you had a great Easter and Passover from all of us here in Banner, WY!