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In praise of writing residencies

Last week my hard drive died, suddenly and inexplicably, leaving gaping holes in my backed up data. Turns out you don't know what you're missing as soon as you're missing it. It sneaks up on you kind of slow.

But it was a good week too. I was awarded a writing residency in Belgium. Dedicated writing time, no interruptions, no other demands on my time - it's hard to imagine but, I suspect, easy to experience. Passa Porta International House of Literature is an international organisation based in Brussels. They have an apartment for writers in Brussels and two more in Flanders. October will find me heading for Europe, laptop under my arm, to focus on the new novel. (I'm hoping to have finished the current one first. For which some uninterrupted writing time would be extremely beneficial.) Because Europe is so far away, because I don't get there very often, I'll be packing as much as I can into the time I'm away. Friends, agents, publishers, festivals, book fairs and research will be squeezed around the edges of the residency. Right now it feels kind of unreal: the first flush of excitement has worn off, the list of jobs that have to be done first is mounting. But still I catch myself, now and then, thinking: Nothing but time to write. No interruptions, no family, no garden, no business, no housework, no teaching, no editing, no magazines, just writing. Can it get any better than that?

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