Kay: Writing in Residence

Tao HouseA friend of mine recently was accepted as an artist in residence at Tao House, the former home of Eugene O’Neill located in Danville, California, which is a designated National Historic Site managed by the National Park Service. Applications are accepted year round, and artists are constantly in residence. 

Eugene O’Neill and his third wife Carlotta lived at Tao House for only seven years, the longest time that O’Neill had lived in any one place. In that time and already beset by illness, he wrote his best-known works: The Iceman Cometh, Hughie, A Moon for the Misbegotten, and Long Day’s Journey into Night, for which he received posthumously his fourth Pulitzer Prize.

I went on the preliminary tour with my friend, a requirement for accepting the residency. The house is largely unfurnished (it changed hands several times after O’Neill sold it), but what furniture and artifacts remain are interesting.

The artist in residence here (the artist is “in residence” only in the context that s/he works there for the specified period; no accommodation is provided) can roam the property’s 17 acres and has access to the site’s library, barn/rehearsal space, and a private office—the former luggage house for Carlotta’s massive collection of baggage.

My friend will be “in residence” for three weeks. When the first week was up, I asked her how it went. She said she got a lot done and the change of scenery was stimulating. She had no obligation to the Park Service or any visitors; she was free to use the space how she liked and avoid or accept as much contact as she wanted.

Her experience made me want to check out the possibilities of a residency for myself. Tao House residencies are for only one week, although you can apply for multiple weeks. But there are many residencies out there, offering plenty of options. 

What about you? Have you ever been an artist in residence? How as it for you?



4 thoughts on “Kay: Writing in Residence

    • They vary a lot. Some you have to pay, some you don’t. Some are for specified periods, some are open-ended. Some include meals, some don’t! But as a writing getaway, if you can find one that suits, they seem like a good idea for many.

  1. I remember when I read about the Amtrak Writer in Residence Program I thought it sounded like it would be a great opportunity. I wonder how productive folks wind up being in that type of program?

    Selected members of the literary community will travel on Amtrak routes that crisscross the country and spend the time working on their writing projects, providing a unique journey and workspace as part of the #AmtrakResidency program.

    • I remember reading about that one! At the time, I wanted to apply, until I found out that applications were accepted once a year, and they were due in about two days. So I just forgot about it. But that sounds like fun to me, as long as you get a sleeper car. 🙂

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