Why a residency?

Hello. My name is Frank DiPalermo. I’m a writer.

I’m a writer. I’m a writer. I’m a writer.

It feels so good to say that sentence, to take ownership of it, to breathe in the truth of it and hold that truth in my chest, sometimes I get carried away.

I’m a writer.

I’m not being cute. I’m not being woo-woo or crystal vision-y either. I’m not that kind of guy. And in the interest of full-disclosure I must state that I’ve believed in and acknowledged myself as a writer for a long time now. But a couple of things happened recently and they’ve sharpened the focus of that belief.

In late October, 2014, I was granted an artist residency for the month of February at Brush Creek in Wyoming. Truly great news but a month is not enough time to complete what I want to accomplish.

Then, the Monday after Thanksgiving, 2014, I was offered a second residency at Osage Arts Community in Missouri.

Wow.

For you to understand how important these residencies are to me I have to tell you a little about my life. First of all, the people in it are incredibly wonderful. My husband is ridiculously supportive. My friends too. My boss is so accommodating of my writing she’s a kind of de facto patron of the arts.

Most mornings I am at writing desk by 6:30AM, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later. I get in a couple of hours, go to my day-job, work a full day, stop off at the gym on the way home, have dinner with my husband and maybe some friends, spend time with the critters, then it’s back to my writing desk for another hour or two in the evening.

Like I said, it’s a great life. But there are two hitches.

The first is this: I am almost always tired when I sit down to write. Sometimes I’m exhausted. Sometimes I fall dead asleep at my desk for a while. I have no idea what it’s like to come at my writing feeling rested and ready-to-go day after day after day. I can’t imagine what ideas will occur, what images will present themselves, what odd little twists of language will piece together in my brain when the neurons aren’t muddled by fatigue.

The other hitch I want to mention is slightly darker. It’s a complaint I’m not entirely comfortable admitting to in a public but here goes: I am always frustrated. Some days I’m a little frustrated. Some days I walk around grinding my teeth so hard I swear they’re throwing sparks.

I have a great life, a great job, great people around me, yes-yes-yes, all that is absolutely true. I know how lucky I am. And I’m grateful. I’m grateful but I’m greedy. I am a greedy, arrogant bastard. I have the audacity to believe my purpose is to tell a story only I can tell, in the way only I can tell it. For many years I’ve only been able to devote a few hours of my day to that purpose.

My jaw clenched when I wrote that last sentence.

I’m not kidding.

In about six weeks my jaw will not be clenched. Writing will not just be at the center of my heart and mind; it will be at the center of my days. I will come at my writing rested and ready. I will be free from distractions and details. I will be a writer in a different way than I’ve ever been one before.

When I come back to my great life and all the great people in it, I will come back changed. I will come back a writer with a completed novel. This, you gotta admit, is pretty cool.

Writer, writer, writer.

I am a writer.

Next time I’ll talk about why I applied to OAC. Hope you check back in a few weeks.

Cheers,

Frank DiPalermo

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