What was the best part for you about being at Monson Arts?
Being gifted the luxury of time and space to write like it was my job, as part of a cohort of artistic people doing interesting work. The Monson experience is so thoughtfully designed. Everything from the comfortable housing, which really makes you feel like a guest in someone’s home, to the beautiful, quiet studio space—big windows and natural light—to the beauty of the surroundings—the lake, the woods, the proximity of the Appalachian Trail—to the catered meals and hot coffee on tap at the general store—was so carefully thought out to free up the mind for creative work. The Monson community is so welcoming and peaceful, and the cohort of artists and writers was so genuinely kind and supportive; I feel lucky to have gotten to know them and their work. It was the perfect residency.
What’s your focus with your work now that you’ve left Monson Arts?
I’m focused on finishing a first draft of a what I hope will be my second novel. I wrote about 50,000 words during my 3.5 weeks at Monson Arts. I made a royal mess that I will need to untangle later, but for now I’m still chugging along. I felt like the project was foundering, but Monson picking it out of the slush really put some wind in my sails and gave me a critical boost of confidence and momentum. Last month, the project was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, which will help carry it along.
Name 3-5 writers/artists and/or books/works that continue to inspire you.
Louise Erdrich (especially LaRose), Debra Magpie Earling (especially Perma Red), Aamina Ahmad (The Return of Faraz Ali), Melissa Sevigny (especially Brave the Wild River) and Alice Munro (everything).