'Writer in residence'? Sign me up!
All modesty aside, the author feels she is terribly well-suited to a number of cushy literary challenges
Published: March 31, 2010
|News brief: Author Alain de Botton will spend a week as writer in residence at London’s Heathrow Airport. His notes will be compiled in a short book to be published this fall, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary.|
My first thought, as a writer, upon reading about Alain de Botton’s writing gig at Heathrow Airport, was Wow, he’s got a public relations guy who is truly thinking outside the box. My second thought was Where do I sign up?
OK, maybe I don’t really want to spend a week at, say, O’Hare or LaGuardia, although, having missed connections at both airports, I think I may have already spent that amount of time at them over the years. And generally, my goal in life has been to spend as little time in airports as is humanly possible.
I do, however, sense possibilities here. Secretly, I’ve always dreamed of being selected as a writer in residence somewhere, although somewhere a little swankier than an airport. Maybe a charming Arts & Crafts bungalow as part of the arts program in some lovely coastal community; or a cozy, ivy-covered cottage at a picturesque New England college campus. I’m sure I’d take my writer-in-residence duties very seriously, and not procrastinate, complain, and drink too much like I do as writer in residence at my actual residence.
So if anyone is interested in signing me up, here are some ideas I have, which I think I would be uniquely and highly qualified for ...
- Writer in residence at Godiva chocolate headquarters in New York City. First of all, I am intimately acquainted with this product, which means I would have to do very little actual background research on the product line itself. I picture myself with a clipboard, strolling around interviewing world-class chocolatiers and sampling any new confections that might be in development. My impressions and observations (maybe in the style of journal entries, with charming pen-and-ink drawings?) would then be published as a lovely gift book, Life Is a Box of Chocolates!
- Writer in residence at Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. (Or, as I call Store #1, The Mother Ship.) Again, my long personal experience with the Nordstrom brand should come into play here, making me the perfect candidate for writer in residence. All I’d need is my laptop set up near one of those comfy couches that husbands sit on while their wives shop, a piano player nearby for ambiance, and dining privileges at the café, and I promise to pen a heartwarming series of shoppers’ vignettes. If the Shoe Fits, perhaps? Or Platinum: My Lifelong Dream of Achieving Level-Fourteen Rewards Status. (Note: If Nordstrom does not see the literary possibilities, I’d be willing to consider the same proposition with Neiman Marcus in Dallas.)
- Writer in residence at Champagne Perrier-Jouët. It would require great sacrifice to leave friends and family to travel to the great Champagne region in France, but such are the demands of literary life. Much as de Botton himself had a desk and computer set up in Terminal Five at Heathrow, I envision myself at a rustic oak table in the tasting room, interviewing vintners and visitors and jotting down their stories. If I have to raise a glass or two (or 20) of the bubbly, I’d do so only because my dedication to literary authenticity would require it. Maybe a nice coffee-table book would be best here—requiring, of course, an extended stay as writer in residence.
- Writer in residence at the Red Carpet Clubs. OK, I’m willing to give this airport gig a try, but only if I am ensconced in the United Airlines Red Carpet Club. I would require bar privileges and an unlimited supply of salted peanuts, but if past experience tells me anything, there are a million stories rotating through on the next bar stool, each and every day. And I would tell them all in Carpet Chronicles.
- Writer in residence at the Bryn Mawr, Pa., Starbucks. Oh, that’s right—that’s where I am right now. And where I’ve been for the past 11 years.
Kathy Stevenson's short stories, feature articles and essays have appeared in such publications as
The New York Times, Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times. She has also published a historical novel and two essay collections.||