Wednesday, August 10, 2011

my writing retreat

I've never been to Yaddo. Never applied for one of those sweet deals where you're sequestered from the monkey-mind real world and given a cot, a desk and a brown-bagged lunch courtesy of an Artist-in-Residence program.

Actually, I take that back. Ten years ago I was the Fishtrap Writer-in-Residence, which came complete with two-and-a-half months in a mountain cabin on the river. In exchange for the cabin, I taught in the Wallowa schools and at the Fishtrap House in Enterprise. The unfortunate aspect of all of that for me was I had two of my children in tow (one of whom was two-years-old). They got sick. Really sick. The potential idyll turned into an Oregon Trail nightmare involving medicine, ER visits, high fevers, infections and even a seizure. Writing? Ha!

I've been a parent for my whole adult life. Many of those years I've been a single parent. Then there's the earning a living part. And my tendency to keep filling my plate with critters, gardens, volunteer work and sporting events. I write around the edges. In the cracks and splits of a robust schedule. Between reheating-my-coffee-in-the-microwave trips. That's my usual style.

But, my kids are older now. Although still unpredictable and busy, my work life is manageable because I have fabulous colleagues who understand that writing is my passion, and when I'm separated from it for too long, I'm cranky. I'm not a good producer when I'm pining for my stories.

Luckily, God invented August for people in my situation.

People (and clients!) go on vacation in August. Kids go to camp. And this year, some old, dear friends with a fabulous retreat-style house just outside of Portland are off camping. I eagerly raised my hand to be the one to watch their dog and water their garden in exchange for five days of space and time to write.

Here are some photos featuring some of the goodies up here. (Beauty and nature are particularly helpful when I'm editing--trying to solve plot issues, getting deeper into a character's head.)

So, for me, it's harvest time: zucchini, beets, spinach, peas, carrots. I have a freshly caught salmon in the fridge. The dog is a wonderful companion for walks in the woods--and, I'm down the road from the setting for a book I'm revising. I'm picking through my sentences, too. Culling, planting, rinsing away debris.


Even though my DIY writing retreat doesn't carry the caché of the infamous 400-acre artist's enclave, it's what I got, and I'm grateful.

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