by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
The Desert Lotus House for Writers is a new writing retreat in Joshua Tree, California, and is the passion project of WWS original member, Lisa Eve Cheby. Applications opened on 11/11/17 with residencies beginning in January 2018.
Women Who Submit: On the Desert Lotus House for Writers website, you mention time you spent at a residency in Knoxville, TN. Why did you want to start a writing retreat, and how did your residency experience help you create your own?
Lisa Eve Cheby: The residency at Firefly Farms and SAFTA was amazing. I had never been on a residency and doubted myself and what I would do with that gift of space and time. There was something about the process of applying and being accepted. It is not a fully-funded residency, but it was affordable and in a new place. The house was welcoming and comfortable. The landscape was new and beautiful. It was the first time in my adult life where I did not have an agenda. I was able to write and read poetry all day. I opted to not have a car that week, so I was really isolated to the farm and to walks on the property and neighborhood. All I had to do was feed the animal and write. I also loved having another poet in the house with me, in this case, Karen Craigo, and the writer in the “coop” who shared kitchen and bath with us, Sara Martin. We each retreated to our rooms or various places in the house to write, but cooking in the kitchen seemed to indicate we were open for conversation.
For about a year, I had been wanting to create a writing retreat for myself in Joshua Tree. The right place at the right price never really came along, and I am limited in what I can fund on my own. I was reluctant to Airbnb as I didn’t want to be a burden to the community. When I was in Knoxville it occurred to me that I could do this with a house in Joshua Tree. I realized it did not need to be a house like the many bought and renovated by professional investors who get homesteader cabins and renovate them to be hipster places for desert getaways. It just had to be a comfortable house where writers could go at an affordable rate to write. A month after I returned from Firefly Farms, I found the house and decided to go for it. Continue reading