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Testimonial from Writer in Residence at Gell, Kelli Jo Ford


The Gell Residency for Writers with Children has been such a gift. Because my partner is teaching this summer, his time away from school didn’t coincide with our daughter’s. We wrestled some with how to make the trip work for all three of us, and ultimately decided to ask my mom, who lives in Texas, if she could join us and look after our daughter while I worked. We were all a little disappointed that my partner couldn’t join us, but being able to spend time at the Gell House with my mom and my daughter was a really beautiful experience. I believe it was just the way it was supposed to be, and the generous travel reimbursement provided by Gell and the Sustainable Arts Foundation gave us a way to make the trip happen.


Spending the week with Mom and Cypress was special for us as a family. (With Mom so far away, we just never seem to get enough time together.) However, it was also really good for my work. As I mentioned in my application, my manuscript is about an inter-generational family of women—what better way to immerse myself into that world than at a writing retreat with my mom and daughter?!

I was able to make solid progress on my manuscript while I was at Gell. Though I was in a beautiful, secluded location, I was able to consult with my readers by both phone and email. Much of the time was spent revising the first story of my manuscript based on those talks and emails. I also started a new story for the first time in a while—something that only happened because I was able to dedicate hours each day to reading and thinking.


The land around Gell is inspiring. We took many walks during work breaks, and while I was writing, I would often look out the front windows and see my mom and daughter at the spring blowing bubbles or having boat races. When they’d come in, my daughter was always excited to tell me about the deer tracks they saw or the many wonders the spring held for her. Thank you for providing such a special work experience at Gell House. I’m grateful that I had the time to work and that I was able to share that time with my family. We’ll always remember it.


With Gratitude,
Kelli Jo Ford