I recently traveled to Maine by plane and then took a boat to a little island off of Jonesport, MA. A few weeks ago while in Moline, IL, I got a phone call.
“Hello. Is this Prince?”
I didn’t recognize the number or the voice, worried that it might be a debt collector, but told the truth anyway. The person calling me was Mike, the most recent person to lead the Norton Island Residency. I went back to the website to refresh my brain on the details of the residency. It was on an island?
Norton Island is a 25-year-old residency started by Rosy and Steve Dunn. It accepts visual and literary artists. While I was there, most of the residents were writers with a handful of people that were visual artists. Residencies are typically 10 days and run in numerous sessions throughout the summer with about a dozen artist residents per session.
What the residency offers you…
You get a cute cabin with a twin-sized bed and a desk as a writer. There’s electricity, so you can charge your things, but you’re encouraged to preserve energy and water. I found the cabin really comfortable and I had ample blankets in case I was cold at night. I’ve gone camping before, but I don’t love the thought of pooping in the woods when I’m desperate, but I did what had to be done.
The first night there was a communal dinner and some of the alumni there reminisced on Steve Dunn’s recent passing. It brought weight to the experience that was both heavy and inspiring.
As for food and more of what’s offered, there is a basic $150 fee to cover food for the whole residency, which includes having breakfast, lunch, and dinner prepared for you. If you are low-income, you can ask for a scholarship to reduce or cover this amount, which was helpful to me.
Hands down, the food by the chef, Andrew, was one of the best parts. Cream puffs after dinner. Pan-fried fish. I ate LOBSTER for the first time! The option was also vegetarian and vegan friendly.
How I spent my time at Norton Island
I worked a lot on my podcast and learned about audio editing. I fine-tuned a feature pitch for my freelancing hustle, added 5,000 words to my book, and watched some strange new movies. Having a cabin to work in was nice, but I found the East Lodge building to be more comfortable for long hours of writing.
As much as I love nature, I can definitely say I’m not the readiest to jump onto the trail, but I did take one or two walks that really blew me away. So many tall trees and patches of soft moss. Spots to go off-trail and just sit by the water.
How I spent my days…
I’d usually wake up around 6 AM since sunrise and a cabin in the woods means the morning light wakes you up. Then I’d walk to East Lodge, get some coffee, and snacks, and start work in the library. On my best workdays, I could work until lunch and then assess if I wanted to work more.
My work typically pivoted from editing my podcast, finishing administrative work, plotting and researching for the last part of my book, and novel writing!
For those interested in Norton Island Residency, I’d highly recommend the experience for anyone used to city life that wants to get out of their comfort zone or for folks that LOVE nature and want a kind of oasis. To learn more about Norton Island, go to their website.