A month ago, I posted a reference here about having high hopes attached to an application for a one-month writer’s residency in an exotic location I did not want to divulge at that time. Here’s the rest of the story.
The residency is sponsored by the relatively new National Parks Arts Foundation, which aims to help artists and maybe gain additional exposure for the country’s parks. So far, it has very few residencies, but the one that totally captured my fancy was in the Dry Tortugas National Park.
You may not be familiar with this park because it’s difficult to reach. Many people think of Key West as being the last of the Florida Keys, but there actually are more that reach far west of U.S. Route 1. Primary among them is Garden Key, the location of Fort Jefferson and a hot tourist spot for those taking an all-day boat trip from Key West.
However, even slightly further west is Loggerhead Key, the last point. The island is mostly uninhabited now that the lighthouse is no longer operated, visited only by park personnel, scientific researchers, occasional boaters and, sometimes, Cuban refugees.
Uninhabited but livable. There is a house, solar electricity and water generated by reverse osmosis. It is there the resident artist will be able to live for a month, in near solitude, on a spit of land you could circle several times in a day. To aid one’s attempt to escape, there is no telephone service, no television, no Internet. If you want to have any contact, you must carry a satellite phone.
Leah and I have spent more than a month now dreaming about life on the island, about what food we would take to last a month, how we would get there. That in itself has been a blast.
Well, the dreaming will have to suffice.
I received word today I was a finalist (which might be a nice way of saying there were few applicants) but someone else was selected.
While my hopes had taken my expectations to high levels, I knew it would be tough. Competition was among all types of artists and there is only one spot. And, to be honest, my novels are a bit outside the norm and that can hurt my chances.
Regardless, our hopes were high and, with the arrival of an email, we found the ground racing to meet us all too quickly.
Will I apply for others? I don’t know, but there’s a good chance I’ll apply for this one again next time. I’ll just try to spend less time dreaming afterwards.