Motivated by the arts community Yaddo, I cooked up an idea some time ago that I’ve begun pursuing with some interest.
For those who don’t click on the link, Yaddo is an artists’ retreat located on a 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York, where artists of all stripes can apply to work for up to two months. They get a studio and room and board for free if they’re accepted. Collectively, Yaddo artists have won 74 Pulitzer Prizes, 29 MacArthur Fellowships, 68 National Book Awards, and a Nobel Prize (Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel for Literature in 1976). Notable Yaddo artists include James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Patricia Highsmith, Langston Hughes, Jacob Lawrence, Sylvia Plath, Alice Walker, and David Foster Wallace, among many others.
I can’t recreate Yaddo, which was originally the summer retreat of an nineteenth-century financier, and which can house 220 artists. I wish I could! But I’d like to find a smaller house where writers can come and work comfortably, possibly for a long time, at a reasonable cost.
Geographically, if I go ahead with this idea, the house would be located in Wisconsin, where I have family and friends, and where big houses are a lot less expensive than they are in California, where I now live. Over the holiday break, I’ll be looking at a few possible spots.
Here are my questions for you:
1. Do you take time off (for a weekend or longer) to write or retreat with fellow writers? Where do you go? (out of town, out of state, out of country? Out of mind?)
2. What’s the most you’d be willing to spend per day for a writer’s space?
3. Assuming a wi-fi connection, TV, and a summer occupancy, what would you need to be comfortable?
–Your own room with a bed, desk, and chair
–Your own bathroom
–Generous public spaces with room to spread out
–Meals (and/or laundry) provided
–Town, urban, or rural experience
The photos in the post are places I’m looking at in the next couple of weeks. So tell me, would you be interested in working or retreating in a place like this?