Friday, September 3, 2021

A Room of Her Own: Erin's Writing Residency at The Hive, Spokane Public Library

Photo by Spokane Public Library

Good news! I've been awarded a writing residency (my first ever) at The Hive, a new Spokane Public Library building and non-traditional library space. 

The Hive houses six artist studios, free meeting rooms, a kitchen, and offices for the Spokane Schools Virtual Learning staff. It's a beautiful, modern building and so new it's hard to be inside it without deep feelings of elation (I mean, old buildings can bring elation, too, but specifically, the elation that newness and possibility bring).

The artist studios are built specifically for artists--from exhaust systems, automatic garage doors for easy moving, utility sinks, to soundproof walls. 

I'm in the first cohort of artists, artists I'm damn lucky to be counted among--artists who range from weavers to painters to a Salish canoe builder. As I have a small footprint in terms of space, one of the artists, a photographer, is sharing his space with me. 


For the next six months, I have a dedicated space for my writing. Since the pandemic began, I've not been able to write in the coffee shop or diner at all--or even attempted it during that "lull" before The Delta Variant began. Of course, pre-pandemic, I spent 99.7% of writing time in diners or coffee shops--from The Coffee Grounds in Terre Haute, Indiana to The Coffee Pot in San Marcos, Texas, to Jacob's Java on Monroe in Spokane.  

Now I have a clear space that does not overlap with my family's space (and sounds and wishes and my own feelings of guilt for writing instead of vacuuming). Back in June when I learned I'd received a residence, I became more tuned-in on my next book, which I have been working on for several years now (notes, scenes, starting it again this way or that way or this way or that). But once I knew I could and had to work on it and in a specific place, whatever dam released. And it's been wonderful to feel as though I'm back in my old mind. Or to recognize the wallpaper in that mind's waiting room where ideas patiently sit until the words are called up.

As it took over fifteen years to write my last novel--albeit interspersed with two story collections, a cross-country move, a child, and work--this time I'd like to knock the next novel out in less time. What seemed perfect about this residency is that it's in the city where I live. Most residencies require out-of-state travel, a cleared calendar wherein one can afford not to work (and somehow pay the mortgage), and can leave their family behind (so, assumedly not for artists/writers with families or young children, as those are typically not welcome). To do this requires either a job that has sabbatical, an ability to juggle multiple aspects of life, and/or older children and a support system that lives nearby. I mean, it is awesome that residencies exist, and keep them running, folks; I'm just noting that there are barriers that prevent many artists/writers/musicians from participating. 

So, all of this is to say that today I moved into my new creative space. I'll keep you abreast of the experience. As part of the residency, I'll be giving a few presentations (virtual and perhaps in-person), so stay tuned.