I’m about three and a half weeks into a twelve-week artist residency at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. I was here in 2014 and I feel very grateful to have received this opportunity for a second time in my lifetime. While here, I hope to finish the penultimate chapter of my novel-in-progress (which is a five-chapter work).
The process of writing this novel continues to astonish me. The chapter I am writing is currently over 21,000 words and will likely be around 30,000 words. I have never written a piece this long before. (I am not usually very focussed on word counts, as I don’t find word counts to be a very meaningful benchmark for me. However, because I’ve never had the experience of writing so many words so quickly into a residency and because my chapter is getting so long, I have been paying a little more attention to my word counts.)
I am a collagist from way back, so while I have been here, I have continued to draw from many different influences. As of late, I have drawn from: scholarly works on the history of the concept of religion; the film Chariots of Fire; Adrienne Rich’s article “Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence” (my interest pertained to one particular sentence—thanks to my partner, Jackie Wykes, for the recommendation!); the introductory chapter to what seems an extraordinary book, Imagining Slaves and Robots in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture, by Gregory Jerome Hampton; a 1973 article by the philosopher of religion Merold Westphal; and a whole lot more.
Before I left for this residency, I also received some good news. As I mentioned on various social media channels at the time, I’ve been awarded a further artist residency. In mid-2019, I will spend around two months at Crosstown Arts, an arts organisation in Memphis. So far, I have not had any luck at all in applying for arts funding from Canadian funding bodies, so receiving this news has been a welcome morale boost.
I will return to my novel-writing now, and I will leave you with this post that I just made to Instagram: