Surprisingly, I’ve achieved a residency’s studio focus and solitude… even in NYC.
I was nervous that staying at home in NYC would allow too many distractions for this to be as productive as an overnight residency. But many things have helped to shift my experience, and are pretty effective in combination.
Staying really local. I’ve been keeping it Queens—I’ve only left the borough twice in the past three weeks: home, studio, repeat.
Yet changing it up. The studio is in a part of LIC I’d never been to before. It’s been neat to eat lunch and people-watch in the public courtyard, and patronize different mom and pop stores. I’ve also been riding my bike instead of taking the subway; it makes me feel like I set the rhythm of my day.
It’s August. It helps that NYC’s emptied out; even my emails have quieted down.
Cleared calendar. My obligations have been postponed and my priorities are crystal clear. It’s great not having to deliberate about squeezing in anything else.
Creature comforts. Unlike at away-residencies, there’s no learning curve in the logistics of everyday life—sleeping, grooming, nourishment, etc. I sleep in my own bed, cook in my own kitchen, and don’t have to miss my husband.
Disconnecting: deactivating my FB account. It became a pleasureless addiction. I had some withdrawal the first two weeks, but it holds little appeal now. It’s shocking how habitual it became: how easily I’ll mindlessly point my browser there, mentally compose status updates that are ultimately trivial, or desire a crowd-sourced solution instead of trusting my own opinions and decisions. These days, I’m so busy and then so tired, there’s little room for anything else, and I can’t imagine how much time I squandered onscreen. I will probably return—but keep my usage restricted.
Enduring my own mind. I’ve spent at least eight hours of every day alone in the studio. I was rusty at the beginning, when my overactive, lazy-way-out squirrel-brain pulled me in too many directions. But now I’m a bit more adept, staying on task and pushing through when I’m tired.
I can tolerate a lot of solitude but it’s also making me feel a bit starved for socialization. I take this as a good sign, as I remember this feeling from other residencies I’ve done. I’m starting to have enough work to show others, so I’m looking forward to scheduling studio visits soon.