The writing residency: An extraordinary experience

Posted on June 27, 2023

Knowing my love of words and my passion for poetry, a friend sent me an invitation she thought I’d find particularly interesting. It was an invitation aimed at showcasing literary artists from Quebec’s Lanaudière region.

The invitation was extended to those interested in applying to a writing residency project as part of the Circuit littéraire lanaudois (Lanaudière literary circuit). The initiative was created to give members of the public a chance to discover the Lanaudière region through unpublished stories written by local authors who were inspired by a place chosen for its charm and touristic appeal.

After hesitating briefly, I was spurred on by my friend’s encouragement. I had to seize this incredible opportunity, this opportune moment to finally showcase my talent.

Of the proposed locations, there was one that caught my eye: the Parc des cultures in Saint-Jacques, a unique location that bears witness to the past and to Acadian history and heritage. I felt compelled to take on this larger-than-life challenge, which would also mean stepping out of my comfort zone. With enthusiasm, perseverance and determination, I embarked on a transformative journey and submitted my work, which was selected.

Now, with great pride, I present two of my 2021 achievements: the audio version of the poem I wrote for the literary circuit (opens in new tab) (in French only) and the interview I did for the “Lanaudière inspirante” podcast (opens in new tab) (in French only). I’d also like to tell you about my experience.

A weekend of writing and contemplation

A writing residency provides literary artists with a work environment that is conducive to research and writing. Residencies can vary in length from a few days to a few months. Some places are more formal and didactic, while others simply provide a peaceful space for fruitful reverie.

My weekend adventure takes place in an enchanting setting: a cottage located on the grounds of a maple grove with a breathtaking view of the neighbouring villages. In this Lanaudière hideaway, an ideal site for creation, I prepare to build my allegory, based on a chosen location and theme. Before arriving, I had immersed myself in the history, culture and epic tale to be told. A collection of words, fitting emotions, a canvas of ideas on which my narrative will be embroidered.

I realize that the constraints actually provide limitless space for me to be free. From all these scattered elements, it is now up to me to bring everything together and follow my heart in assigning meaning to each element.

Alone in this house, my haven for the occasion, I connect with the souls of lost poets. I open a few anthologies of our greatest Quebec poets. I immerse myself in the enigmatic symbolism. To expand my linguistic repertoire, I search for absolute synonyms, more evocative titles and richly resonant vocabulary that makes my inner drum beat.

Each writing challenge brings me back to my core, my inner wisdom. While writing my drafts, I disconnect from the world in order to tap into my sensitivity. I repeat the same ritual; mapping out my memories and impressions focuses my flashes of consciousness and my desire for expression.

In this silent place, with no demands from the outside world, I am in tune with my imagination. I connect my fragments of fiction with my personal truth. The tranquility, this noiseless universe, calls me to lay bare my repressed feelings. With the sounds of the ticking clock and the crackling fire, I rely on my other senses to listen as the wind whispers to me during this temporary remotion.

Already autumn calls for contemplation and introspection, and I welcome the defoliation of this forest as an opportunity to free myself from my limited and sometimes overly structured thoughts. I must take my time scanning the detritus of my feral landscape.

In front of my notebook, I breathe slowly, deeply. I wait for the unseen cue to propel me into the heart of a foretold fantasy. In communion with my writing sources, with the ink of my feverishness, I weigh the audacity of my unexpected ardour. I try to walk towards my unattainable borders, break through the wall of my true convictions, confront them with my reality. No dizziness or emptiness, but a sweet frenzy at the idea of being touched by the grace of moving poetry.

I calm my restless hands, wanting already to go too far on the page of my deliverance. I rein in my eagerness; I carefully assess the effect of this intense presence. In my language, each word becomes an image, an energy. An unlikely encounter takes place on each line, at each turn on the rampart of my deliberately chosen experiences.

When it comes time to write, in the very essence of the poetry to be created, I am ready to embrace all the voices flowing through me, to channel them, and put my feelings into words and humbly give them back to the world, in a renewed form born of my uniqueness.


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Nathalie Rondeau

Nathalie Rondeau

Nathalie Rondeau

Nathalie Rondeau is a writer, poet, blogger and the host of a constrained writing game she created. She is passionate about personal growth and enjoys inspiring others on their journey to well-being. Committed to honouring the French language and adding a little more soul to creative writing, she loves being carried away by the world of words.


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