Friday, July 9, 2010

Post-retreat report #2

I've been home 4 days now and it's been an unusual return. First, it's been hotter than a sweat lodge since I got back, after months of cool, rainy weather. All of us are lethargic and cranky with this sudden change. Second, I got a new kitten on Tuesday, Franny, and she's little and cute and time-consuming (for more info, see Third, my computer picked up a virus Thursday afternoon and is at the repair shop (my fingers are crossed that it can be fixed). Add to this two groups, three coaching appointments, some new client inquiries, three small but immediate jobs and one big project for a client, and it's been a busy time.

But I'm committed to staying with my story so the after a short night with Jessie on Wednesday morning at 4, I settled in and wrote another chapter. That went so well that yesterday, I sat down at 5 to do the same thing. Didn't happen. I punched out a few lackluster paragraphs but there was little juice in them. I felt stymied. What made the difference?

Here it is: On Monday driving back, my friend Tamara and I drove in silence for more than 2 hours. I had time to think about the next chapter and what might happen. But the rest of the day Wednesday, I didn't get--nor did I take--any time to think about where the story might go, what might happen next, to run through all the possibilities and pick one to write.

And I'm seeing that that part of the retreat, the hours of silence to walk and lie in the hammock and stare at the garden, where I was able to keep the story living within me, will be hard to come by, much harder than the writing time. Something I'm going to have to sort out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Starting the new writing practice

After five mornings of writing first thing, then writing all morning, I wrote in my journal the last two mornings. But today, due to the advent yesterday of Franny, a new kitten, I was up at 4:30 with little hope of going back to sleep. When Franny's up, she wants everybody up and that means refereeing with the two older cats who aren't thrilled that little Franny has come to join us.

I futzed for a few minutes, then realized I had nearly two hours until my gym buddy and I were headed out. So I did my best to recreate the retreat experience. Put my laptop on the dining table with a view out to the terrace, which got cleaned yesterday, made a cup of tea, fed the cats, and sat down and write a chapter. The storyline had been percolating in my head all day yesterday. I wasn't exactly sure where it was going but I had a good idea and sure enough it just flowed on to the page. I liked staying in the story during the day, thinking about it in off-moments, and knowing I'd be working with the characters again.

I wrote very steadily until just past 7, got dressed, and went to the gym. Being up that long, I felt much more alert for the gym, and having already been creative for two hours was a huge boost to the day although I have to admit I felt very sleepy about 4 pm and again now. I won't be going to bed late tonight. And I hope to write again tomorrow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Home from retreat, well satisfied

I arrived home about 12:30 today from the writing retreat. I had planned to put in a couple of hours very early this morning, an effort to keep the early morning writing going, but I slept poorly and had too many little things to do to get ready to leave at 7:30. I gave a ride to one of the other women and we agreed to keep silence a while and so it was nearly 11 before we started any conversation. That gave me a few more hours to ponder my characters and where they are going.

Over the last five days (Wed-Sun), I wrote 12,000 words. That's a lot and I felt really good about most of it. It needs editing, it needs tweaking, some of it even needs rethinking but I broke my stuck place around figuring out what might happen and that felt really good. And some surprises showed up and that felt really good.

My challenge now will be keeping up the momentum, to keep in the front of mind and calendar, that I am a writer for myself, not an editor for authors. The retreat lets me live fully into the first identity and let go of the second. My real life here at home is the reverse. So it will be interesting to see if I can get up and write first thing tomorrow and how that might play out.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

End-of-retreat blues

I woke this morning out of sorts. I hadn't slept well and yet hadn't wanted to get up. I couldn't find the thread of the next chapter to write for my novel, and the long list of things I wanted to do today--all of them quite fun and engaging--suddenly seemed stupid. The long drive home loomed up, the full work calendar I go back to, the laundry, the grocery shopping. I felt burdened.

It doesn't help that last night's glorious sunshine evaporated again or that it's cold enough to have the heat on this July 4. It doesn't help that I have written furiously and exceedingly well over the last four days, producing double the number of chapters I had hoped for and that my creative brain is tired, needs rest and replenishment. It doesn't help that nearby neighbors are setting off obnoxiously loud fireworks--I can only hope they didn't have too much money to spend.

I dragged myself out of bed at 7:30, made tea, sat down and wrote another chapter. That made me feel a little better. I didn't know where the ideas were going to come from but somehow just sitting down and reading the last few pages of yesterday's entry worked.

I got some breakfast, took a walk down to the meadow, surrounded by more mosquitoes than I could count, came back, and have spent the last two hours taking notes and thinking about where the story is going to go next. It has not been an easy two hours. Sometimes the ideas just flow out of me, and sometimes, like today, I have to extract them from the creative mire. But I have a good list to go home with, places to jump into in the early morning if I keep up this new routine or on the next Writing Fridays.

Because the story is still gripping me, the other things on my list (a watercolor of the beautiful garden scene out my window, the reading of a book on writing, a couple more collages, another long walk--they may all have to go by the wayside. I'm still overly ambitious, I know.

This kind of low place usually doesn't hit me until I've been home a few days. The post-Whidbey doldrums. Maybe I can have it today and escape it later.