Reflections on a Fellowship
Some words pull along others, train-like, trailing imagery woven by our experience, popular culture, imagination and expectations. For me, cabin, is one such engine. Some of its carriages: isolation, seclusion, privacy, self-sufficiency, loneliness, serenity, freedom and room. And while some of these did emerge and evolve over the two weeks of my fellowship at KSP it was “room” that stays with me. At the beginning I was unsure whether the cabin would be a waiting room or a writing room. Waiting for inspiration. I’d been there before. It can be paralyzing and I was scared that it might happen because I was trying on a new genre, checking it for size wondering whether I could pull it off. Anything might happen to stop the flow. But over the two weeks “room” morphed into another interpretation: space.
A place to be.
Me. (Trite, I know, but nevertheless true).
A room where there were no responsibilities other than to look after myself and write. Eat, sleep, write, repeat. Coming from a day-to-day where writing has become words squeezed out between work, study and family commitments where time is triaged and grudgingly apportioned I found my “room” strangely liberating. There was a surreal bubble-like quality to the experience that grew a little more each day, yet I did not feel cut off because I found I could exit the bubble without it bursting. I came to call it selective hermitising. Selective because there is a difference between being alone and lonely. To appreciate one and avoid the other requires an element of choice and this is the unique factor of a KSP retreat. Connection with others is available. Just up the path were my two other (delightful) fellows, Stella and Maura, or members of the dedicated KSPWC team, or the myriad of writing groups that come together daily and heartily welcome visiting fellow writers. Or not, because there is no compulsion to participate either. There is room to choose as well as be.
So over two weeks a cabin morphed into my room. And there was no waiting. There was feedback. There was excitement. There was connection, disappointment and encouragement and at the end there were words in my manuscript that hadn’t been there before.
32,000 of them.
But above all, on reflection, my greatest take away was a re-connection with what I have always loved, and often forget, that (for me) it’s all about enjoying the writing, the experience not the words. Words can be edited, experience cannot.