Mildura writer Maree Jones reports on her stay at The Butterfly House in September 2017:
I arrived at the Butterfly House armed with my key code and code for the alarm.
I tried the key code once. No dice. Twice, still the door didn’t open. Three times and I was certain it wasn’t going to happen. It was overcast, windy and starting to rain. I really didn’t want to be locked out in the weather after a seven hour drive from Mildura..
The excitement of reaching the Butterfly House was ebbing a little.
Fortunately, ever organised, I had printed a copy of the user manual and rang the emergency real-estate contact, Michael. Who told me I had the old code. He was at that moment out using his chainsaw, I didn’t ask what he was cutting. He called back five minutes later with the correct code and a couple of suggestions for the best takeaway in Dromana and McCrae.
Finally, I was in. The Butterfly house was everything I had imagined it would be. All glass and triangles. It was a place I had always wanted to visit and never dreamed that I would.
The Butterfly House had inspired a house built by a fictional architect in my current work in progress, but I was unaware that it was where the residency would be offered when I attended the Writing the Mallee Project workshop with Carrie Tiffany in Mildura. At the end of a great workshop the flyers were handed out for the residency with a picture of the Butterfly House on them and I felt an overwhelming sense of fate.
The dates didn’t work, but I had to apply anyway with the hope that there was some flexibility, although the pessimist in me said I would get it just because I couldn’t actually go. Instead I was awarded the residency and the dates were flexible. All great signs for my book I thought. Fate maybe?
I spent the time at the house working on that same novel and the change of scenery brought about a change of perspective and a change of point of view. A huge re-write ensued and some darlings were murdered along with around 3000 words. But the work is better for it and hopefully it will now go where it is supposed to.
Imposter syndrome hit me occasionally during the residency. I mean really as an aspiring writer, not yet published, what right did I have to be doing this thing that real writers do, in this amazing house where real published writers had worked?
But I wrote through to the other side. It was an amazing experience to have the space and time to immerse myself in my writing and one that won’t soon be forgotten.
A big thank you to Brigid Magner for organising everything and the Reading/Writing the Mallee project for making it all possible.