What is a Writers’ Colony?

and what do I need to know before I apply to Rockvale?

Maybe you’ve never heard of a writers’ colony or a writing residency. Maybe it’s never entered your mind to retreat from your usual life and routines, travel somewhere unique and quiet, and spend a week or more just writing. But maybe the idea intrigues you, now that you’re here looking at this website. Come on, keep reading. We invite you to learn about Rockvale and what a residency with us is all about.

There are writing residency programs across the country. Some are small, some are large, some are well-established and fully-funded (and very competitive!) and some are fee-based. RWC is fairly new – we opened in October 2018 – and we’re just becoming known. We believe we’re unique in many ways and operate a little differently than many residency programs. Here are some things to know about us.

  1. We are not a vacation place or an airbnb. We are not simply “accommodations” for anyone who wants to come. We are a writer’s colony. That means you must be a writer in order to stay with us. We have rules that are clearly spelled out in our writer’s contract and we expect writers to abide by them. Writers should be independent, flexible, responsible, and able to appreciate and work in a rural environment.
  2. We know many writers hesitate to call themselves writers. You should know we don’t define “writer” in terms of any specific success. If you have a heart for writing and you spend time writing, you are a writer. We have a special place in our heart for beginner and emerging writers. We believe these writers can benefit from a residency just as much as established writers. Therefore, publication is not a requirement for acceptance to RWC. Neither is any specific educational degree or program. What is our requirement, then? Read on!
  3. Applicants should have a writing project in progress (or at the very least in mind) and should be able to articulate the importance and passion they feel for it. We ask specifically, “Why is this project important to you?” We learn a lot about the writer when they answer this question. If an applicant doesn’t have a good understanding about why they want to come to the colony, then they probably aren’t ready to come. We protect the purpose of the colony by ensuring applicants can answer this question in detailed and convincing language.
  4. We offer a blend of community and solitude. Even though we don’t usually facilitate formal social events during residencies, we love it when writers become friends, and this happens often. There’s something about being in residency with other writers that produces a common bond. However, solitude and quiet times are equally, if not more, important. The main purpose of coming for residency is to write. Therefore, we strictly enforce our quiet hours policy during the day so that “work hours” are protected and productive times.
  5. We love all genres of writing. If you write anything at all, you are welcome to apply. So, poets, novelists, essayists, academic writers, translators, musicians, playwrights, memoirists, cartoonists, researchers, short story writers, food writers, travel writers, comedy writers, and any other kind of writer: you are welcome to apply.
  6. We are a fee-based program. We do not offer scholarships or fellowships except within specific boundaries of writing contests. (We’ve had three such contests so far – poetry, short story, and CNF.) However, our standard rate for weeklong residencies is highly subsidized at $350/week, (plus fees and taxes). That’s $58.33 a night. We think that’s very fair and we’re unable to do more than that at this time.
  7. We offer residencies of one to four weeks. Also, we allow writers to come for mini-residencies of one to three nights at the nightly rate of $100.00 plus fees and taxes. It is not cost effective to schedule four nights. Writers can certainly apply for a whole week and stay for however many days they’d like during that time. We suggest this option to writers who can only come for four or five nights.

Do you have more questions? We’re eager to help! Email Sandy at sandy.rockvale@gmail.com.