We asked our most recent residents for feedback that we can share on our site, so you can hear about the experience from their point of view. We hope it helps give you, dear reader, a window into our world.
Being selected for the New Orleans Writer’s residency was probably the most validated I’ve ever felt in my writing career. It felt too good to be true. It took me a few days to accept the reality of the offer, even though I had applied for it months earlier.
The residency gave me time, the ability to focus, space, the opportunity to socialize with like-minded individuals, feedback, support, and a new and exciting environment to explore. I was able to ‘take a vacation’ from my regular life and dedicate myself wholly to the part of myself that I think is most important, but that others don’t often believe to be as worthwhile as more ‘worldly’ pursuits. It was invaluable to have Kat, the Director of the residency, believe in me as a writer and introduce me to others who at the same time needed and could provide that same kind of support.
My time at the residency was filled with writing, walking, stops at various cafes, gourmet meals, chances to wander and explore, time for reflection and meditation, good conversations, live music, interesting people, books, workshops, cultural outings, and of course, more writing.
There has never been a time in my life where I was more productive than I was the month I spent in New Orleans. The evidence: I finished the first draft of a 90,000 word manuscript in 28 days.
This four-week-long residency in a shotgun house presented me with physical and spiritual nourishment, both curated by Katherine Elliott, who is the heart and soul behind the program’s unique character. The program’s opening event, a beautiful welcome dinner, set the tone for the rest of the month in it’s attention to detail, craft, and community.
Our side of the house was set up to provide separate environments for writing, for meditating, for reading and chatting, and for resting and recharging our batteries. Unless you’re partial to writing at cafés, the house is pretty much complete. The six residents share one bathroom and kitchen. Each resident received a weekly stipend, generous enough to allow us to eat and pay for the occasional beignet, drink and poboy. We attended a weekly cultural event, free of charge for us. Aside from the few group events and one-on-ones, our time was ours to manage. Breakfast was offered Monday through Saturday, with freshly baked goods, fruits and a different choice of tea every day. See what I’m saying?
The one-on-ones became a safe space for me to be vulnerable and still feel safe discussing my work-in-progress. While I’m used to having my work read aloud and shown to others, I usually wait until the first draft is considerably polished to be shared. But Kat had the ability to hear and read my pieces and understand where I wanted to take it. Instead of telling me what to do, she suggested ways for me to get where I wanted with it. A feat hard to come by when getting feedback and constructive criticism.
The structure of the residency enabled me to focus on my work and honor my creative process. I wrote when I needed to, rested when necessary, and allowed myself to experiment and be vulnerable — all because I knew I wouldn’t be judged or put on the spot.
Overall, the most validating and nurturing experience I have ever had as a writer.
A wonderful place to be while working on my writing. There wasn’t a need I felt went un-met in terms of food, toiletries, cultural experiences, etc. Everything that was told would happen, would happen, so I did not feel shortchanged or like I had to navigate unexpected complications. House was located in an extremely convenient area, walking was a breeze and could get to every place I wanted on foot. Host (Kat) was always conveniently available and able to help with any questions. One on One sessions were helpful and insightful. Space became a bit challenging after a while, but it’s nothing unexpected when living with 5 other strangers (who become fast companions lol). All in all, I recommend interested writers apply to this residency.