Friday, July 18, 2014

In residence

The Art Farm is its own world, one in which, I’m finding, artists and writers are forced to discover who they are and what they can handle. The owner, Ed, is an artist who spends half of his time in New York and half of his time here in Marquette, Nebraska, where the last census I could find put the population at around 226. Ed is stoic and hardworking, and his calm demeanor seems to quietly affect all of the residents here. So far, I have met musicians, painters, book binders, writers, and I will meet more artists over the next two weeks.

We work 12 hours a week, and so far my work has included erecting and moving scaffolding and helping to dig a hole for a new septic tank (glam-or-ous). I feel hearty. The landscape, however, is precisely as I pictured: rows of corn surround the art farm in four square mile blocks. I’ve taken to walk this four-mile loop mornings, before it gets too hot. I have a good chunk of my work out of the way for the week, so now I am digging into the writing.

I can’t say that I am uncomfortable, but it’s funny the things that I notice here I was not prepared for. One of my boxes hasn’t yet arrived, and it has my contacts and most of the food I shipped myself, and because I am one of the residents without a car, I have to rely on the kindness of others—and wise grocery shopping choices when I do go to town.

Survival aside, the social aspect is interesting. Everyone is nice, and the unexpected comes daily. There were a group of walkers led by “recovering politician” Ed Fallon, heading through yesterday. They are part of The Great March for Climate Action, and their route will take them from Los Angeles to Washington DC. They camped out on the grounds, all ages and shapes and personalities, all dedicated. They were very interesting folks, some of which gave up their jobs and even their homes to take this hike across the states to stand up for what they believe in. 

As for solitude, I have been finding it when I seek it out. The Farm House, where I’m staying, does not have internet, so staying there is a great place to work without much distraction. That said, I am staying on the second floor where there is supposedly and likely a ghost. She may prove a distraction.

I have been writing here and there. I wrote a piece about Rattle as an old man, an old man who walks around a park and who is covered in tattoos that tell, if not his life story, his life philosophy. He reconnects with some of his children in this piece. I am trying to revisit WE ARRIVE UNINVITED as well, since a few agents have been interested in it from reading the first 50 pages, then requesting the full have given me a "close but…" 

Writing is hard work, and there is little, if no, instant gratification. Likewise, restoring a 12,000 square foot family farm in rural Nebraska forces a person to slow down. In this way, both my writing and this residency demand that I stay in the moment and dedicate myself to the nature of right now. After all, when disconnected for the every-micro-second filled eWorld, one is reminded that nature ultimately rules, and we are the mercy of her rhythms and temperament. 

Enjoy your every moment in the week to come. -Jen

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