Audrey T. Williams
Audrey T. Williams is an Oakland-based writer. She is a VONA alum, working towards an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at CCA. Audrey is currently writing the manuscript for "Chutney and Chitlins," a mixed-race family memoir that makes use of hybrid creative nonfiction using narratives and images. The book begins with stories passed down from her African-American father that lead up to him joining the newly integrated US Marines in the late 1950's (possibly the first African American US Marine sent to US embassy duty in Rangoon, Burma). In Burma, he meets Audrey's mother, whose heritage is a mixture of European and South Asian ancestry (Anglo-Indian-Burmese). Her website: audreyTwilliams.com.
Did the retreat meet your expectations?
Met and exceeded! I was not expecting the generous extras, such as the gracious dinner, welcoming wine bottles, and the tastings.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of your retreat?
Not having any of my typical daily domestic distractions, not having to worry about work or school or having dinner on the table so that I could focus on my creative work was just lovely.
How did the vineyard setting inspire you and/or your writing?
The natural beauty and being away from it all in a somewhat secluded environment let me really focus on what I was there for, to write!
What did you work on during the retreat?
I am in the MFA program at CCA, so I am working on my main writing project that will ultimately be my thesis. It's a hybrid creative nonfiction family memoir about growing up in a multi-cultural, multi-racial family. The working title is "Chutney and Chitlins: A hybrid family memoir."
What other activities did you do during the retreat?
I was on a co-residency with 2 other writers. We explored the local town for dinner options, which was great. I had Afghan food for the first time! Also, I indulged myself in the nearby shopping when I needed a break.
Did you participate in any activities or events arranged by the host winery?
YES. We were welcomed on our first day with an amazing tour behind the scenes of the winery, along with wine tasting along the way. Our second night, we were treated to a dinner and our choice of wine at the fine dining winery restaurant...it was decadent! We also had one more wine tasting and tour of the caves at the other tasting room next to the restaurant.
Any tips or advice you think might be helpful for future residency applicants?
APPLY! Get your application in early, and request Wente...you will not be disappointed!
Do you have any advice or tips for future applicants that wish to apply and work together?
I would recommend that you have a planning meeting with your co-applicants to figure out logistics, everything from meal planning to how you determine who gets which bedroom, to writing/working preferences. Clear communication and boundary setting will help ensure a smooth co-residency experience.
Can you sum up your experience in eight to ten words?
My first-ever writing residency! Infinite gratitude for Wente Vineyards generosity.
Any other comments, impressions, and surprises about the retreat you wish to convey?
I am humbled by the experience of being hosted by Carolyn Wente and Wente vineyards. As a writer-in-residence for the week at Wente, I was given the VIP experience everywhere I went on the vineyard grounds. I can't thank Writing Between the Vines enough for this wonderful program!