Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In praise of the writing retreat

by Rick Blechta

I woke up this morning to find a winter wonderland outside. This being Canada, it is no serious snowfall, just a light dusting really, but it stuck to the trees and everything looks really lovely. For some reason (early on in these cold months — definitely not so much in February!) this always puts me in a good mood, one could almost say romantic.

Today, however, my response is somewhat different. The white stuff makes me want to get away. If you know Canadians, you might think, “Blechta’s about to head for Florida.” Actually, no. The place to which I want to get away would be a cabin in the woods. What I want to do is write.

My life for the past five years has been, well, very busy and distracting. There’s no need to enumerate everything for you, but the overall result has had a chilling effect on the time I can spend on writing. I have a novel in desperate need of my attention. If I get close enough to the laptop on which I write, I can almost hear my characters crying about my abandoning them for days at a time.

There have been occasions where I’ve been able to get away for a week or two, break free from distractions and able to focus on crafting something readable.

And it has been heaven each time. Get up in the morning, make coffee, write until I’m hungry, make breakfast (thinking all the while), then back to writing. Good things happen when I’m able to work like that and there have been days when I’ve written upwards of 8000 words. By evening, I’m exhausted but satisfied that I’ve done a Good Day’s Work.

This morning, looking out at my backyard, cup of coffee in my hand, it dawned on me that I need to get away. The lure of that is very strong. Ideally I’d be away for a few weeks or even a month, but because of obligations I’ve taken on, but that length of time isn’t in the cards.

So I have to figure out how to handle my needs/desires balanced against my reality. Hmmm…


Charlotte Hinger said...

I would so love to pull off the isolated cabin (or something) trick. A writing friend of mine used to check into a residence inn when she was finishing a novel. Wherever, I want someone to show up with food. Just a discrete knock at the door. Room service would do. No phone. No obligations. No meetings. Just thinking and writing.

Rick Blechta said...

That actually sounds really good, Charlotte. Georges Simenon used to write his marvelous Maigret novels just like this -- and he'd do it over a weekend, start to finish!