Writer's Update: Playa Summerlake Residency

I'm taking a break from my writing and packing to give a little report on my time at the Artists' Residency at Playa Summerlake. To see more about that--and if you are interested in applying--check out the Playa website. The residencies are 5, 12, or 26 days. I landed a 5-day visit. While I wanted a longer one, as it happened my schedule this spring barely allowed for the five day version.

This was my first residency, and let me say first off that I was over the moon to get it. Talk about validation of myself as a writer! The residency in remote eastern Oregon provided--free of charge--a private cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, etc., and a nice spot to plop my computer for writing, as well as dinner the first night. Every one of the cabins looks out on the playa and the usually-a-lake, so that I was constantly inspired by the scenery and the ever-changing light and weather (more on that later--we got the fullest range of spring possible, I think!). 

There we also lots of places to stroll, walk, and hike, and I checked out whatever was accessible on foot from my cabin, but didn't take the time to drive to any other trails. At 4200', the area, especially the hills above it, was still in late winter so I wasn't drawn to climbing too high. 

Some stats: In 3 full days, 2 partial days, I:
--wrote 10,500 words on the novel
--wrote 2500 words plus notes on a short story (must return to that and finish...)
--interacted with 5 visual artists and 2 other writers
--hiked about 21 miles
--took about 200 photos
--did NOT think about my move

High temperatures were probably around 65; lows maybe 28? Highest wind gusts were well past 40 mph, and yes, we had snow. Not much, but it started as rain and turned the road to an ice rink, which happily people didn't try to drive on.

Now for a few photos. 

First, the cabin.

Arrival day. The handy little cart for hauling all my stuff to the cabin.

My little home.

Yes, I hauled my desktop computer there. Totally worth it as I spent more hours at the computer than I normally would, and wanted the best ergonomics (I could have used a slightly lower desk).

The main lodge. We ate our first dinner on the patio, though the nice day turned very cold with sunset.

Hikes and walks and weather, in no particular order:

The pond, which ran in front of several of the cabins between us and Summerlake.

Halfway up the mountainside, on what I suspect is an ancient lake terrace.

It was a controlled burn, but the smoke at the other end of the lake freaked out the Californians, including me.

When the wind came up the alkali dust across the lake rose high into the sky (happily, it didn't reach us). A light dusting of snow didn't change that.

Storm skies
Arrival of the mother ship

There was also some random art previous visitors had left on the playa and in other spots around.

As you can tell, I had a great time! It did make me wish I were a painter, because the landscapes cried out to be painted. I took my watercolors, but didn't make time to try, knowing I could never capture the scenes--though at some point I'll try to copy some of my photos.

Huge thanks to PLAYA for giving me this chance to immerse myself in my writing in a fantastic spot on the edge of the Great Basin! And an equally huge thanks to artist Roxanne Everett for telling me about the place.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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  1. Looks wonderful, and I love that sort of cabin. The guinea pigs and I will have to apply :D
    Glad to hear the writing went well. Try to fit it in between the packing bits, too!


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