Saturday, November 12, 2011

The dangers of writing in your head

One of the things I love about being on a creative retreat is the opportunity to stay with my story most all the time. I’ve just come back from a week retreat with six other creatives in Netarts, a village on the Oregon coast. While I was there, I continued my first-hour creative practice, getting up each morning, brushing my teeth, making tea, and lighting a candle and as the day came on, I continued to create Lola’s story. Then I’d make breakfast, write in my journal, help with cooking, write another 90 minutes, read the mystery novel I brought. After lunch, I’d write again for 90 minutes, go for a walk. We’d have circle. Some nights I read some of the story. But the characters and their dilemmas stayed with me all day, coming in and out of my mind, and all kinds of interesting twists and turns would appear in my mind.

On Wednesday, I drove into town to check email and handle a few business connections. On the way back, along the country road, I suddenly realized there were several cars behind me and I was driving way too slow. I suspect the young men in the pickup directly in back thought it was a little old lady too timid to press on the gas. I had no way to tell them that it was a big old fiction writer completely wrapped up in her story.

Then today, I drove down to Oceanside, another village to the north where there is good beach access. I was cutting it close for the tide was coming in and a big storm was brewing off in the distance. But there were plenty of people and dogs still strolling and I parked and went on down. The going was a little dicey, the sand pretty soft, but I hoofed it down 15 brisk minutes and back. I realized as I turned around that I had barely noticed the beauty of the water or the big rocks glistening in the silver fog so involved with Lola and Jimmy was I. And then I got sucked back into the details and just as I got back to the entrance in full mental writing mode, sorting out what was happening with Lola and the vet, I fell flat forward onto the sand. I hadn’t noticed the fairly large rock jutting out of in front of my foot. I wasn’t hurt, just surprised. And I sat there and laughed at how caught up I was in my imagination and then I dusted myself and went up to the coffee shop where I wrote the next installment. 

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