Well, being I won’t have much of an update about Justin while they hunker down waiting out weather at Camp 3 (14,200 feet) this week, I thought it was time to let you know what I’ve been up to!
Since May 5, I have been “hunkered down” in Paonia, CO, where I have been living as an artist-in-residence at Elsewhere Studios.
What the heck is an artist-in-residence, you ask? Well, it is simply a dedicated place where artists (painters, sculptors, fashion designers, musicians, singers, etc) can live and work away from their usual environment and distractions. You have to apply and typically you are awarded a residency for a few weeks to months with a space to live and work.
At Elsewhere, there are living accommodations for 4 artists. This month, we have 3 female writers (including me!) and 1 visual artist (she’s been here for 3 months).
It has just what I need. A chair. A desk. A wood-burning stove. My bed is up in the loft area. And when I say, up, it is UP. Good thing I have rock climbing skillz because climbing up and down the 8-foot ladder is no easy feat.
Oh, Elsewhere also has a resident cat. Meet Tomatoes. He thinks he is a crucial part of everyone’s art. Unfortunately, he is not the best typist, so he is not helping my book.
The whole Elsewhere property has a bit of flair to it. As you can see in the above picture of my bungalow, the windows are purposely crooked. Art is everywhere you turn on the property. And I’m pretty sure there is a whisper ma-phone somewhere in this house (reference from The Lorax).
The flair goes well with the town of Paonia. With a population of 1,500 people and names like Forest, Wind, Willow, Haven and Fox floating around town, you can probably guess that this is very much a hippie haven. And I don’t say that offensively because I try to be part-hippie myself, so I feel very much at home. Everyone is so nice and welcoming here. I have discovered another small Colorado mountain town to love.
It’s also quite beautiful. Shouldered by 11,400 ft Mount Lamborn and his buddies, Paonia is home to the largest concentration of orchards and organic fruit in Colorado. There is one main drag with cute shops and eateries up and down.
As for my book writing, this is the best thing I could have done for it. Having the time and space allows me to focus. I have made tremendous progress (I think). I’m coming upon 20,000 words (60 pages) written while here at Elsewhere. With what I accomplished since starting in January, I am at least halfway done with the whole thing.
Overall, this has also been a good practice in self compassion, though. You see, I have ALL DAY LONG to write. Do I do that? No, and that’s okay. I have embraced my productive times as well as my procrastination times. I am living in a beautiful area and damn if I’m not going to get out and hike. Plus, I am not just working on my book, but other projects too. Sure the book is my main focus, but I work on what is calling me in the moment.
Lastly in the growth department, my Elsewhere residency has prompted me to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve done a few public readings, sharing my work with others. Being around other writers again has been so, so helpful. Though I am in the “write fast, edit later” phase, I am still drawing from their creativity and critique.
My residency has been an awesome experience and I almost wish I didn’t have to leave this place in 6 days!