Friday, October 12, 2018

I need a writers' retreat!

I would be happy to rent out my studio to a writer who wants a quiet place to write for a weekend. So why can't I use my studio to write the two articles I am working on right now? Because just when I get into a zone, when all the words are flowing well, the telephone rings, a friend or family member is calling or another VIP needs me, or my dog Lexie begins to bark and tells me a car is in the driveway.

I have to stop writing and take care of the calls, answer the door or at least check out what is driving my dog nuts. My thoughts are interrupted, and I can't get them back. I turn to one of the million other projects that need my attention. Clear the clutter from my tables in the studio, get the stink bugs off the windows and off the floor, feed the dog or maybe get myself a bite.

I have promised myself a weekend writing retreat for some time, but it seems such a waste of money when I live in a cabin in the woods in the mountains. I have no one around who needs my time or attention except Lexie and she is spoiled. My husband, Barry, never wanted to leave home after we moved here. He could not understand why I wanted to go anywhere. "We live in one of the prettiest places in the country," he would say. 

What he didn't understand was that as long as I was at home I had laundry to do, meals to prepare, all kinds of other household jobs that took my time. He, however, could sit on the deck, have a glass of wine, smoke his pipe and listen to the birds in the trees. 

I wish I could be like Doris Buchanan Smith, a wonderful writer of children's books, who lived here part-time. When she was working on a manuscript, she did not go anywhere or let anyone in her house. She didn't wash dishes or clean because she was working. Writing was the only thing that was important to her at that time.
First published book by Doris Buchanan Smith

I wish I had that discipline. I have tried to understand why I let other things interfere with my writing time. I will blame it on my parents. They had this strong work ethic. My father planned his days so he could be productive and earn a living for his family. Mother's job was to take care of the house and everything in it, including the children. She was not the best housekeeper and neither am I, but like her, I do my best. I feel it is my job.

The advice we writers are given is to hang a Do Not Disturb sign on our writing room and not let anyone interrupt us. I have no children or a husband to interrupt me. I interrupt myself when the guilt of leaving dishes in the sink or clothes in the washer overrides my determination to forget it and keep writing.

I promise myself that I am going to rent a small cabin far away from home where it is totally quiet except for the soft sound of leaves falling off the trees.
I will take only my laptop computer and some food, water and a few clothes with me. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

But when I think about it and how much it will cost - money that is not in my budget - my heart freezes with the fear that I will not be able to create, not be able to write a decent page, and that I will worry or be concerned about something at home. Then I will have wasted my time and money.

After Barry died, I found a great retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. Wildacres is the perfect place to be alone to write because you live in a small rustic room and all meals are prepared for you. Although the lodge is filled with other artists working on their projects, the halls are quiet and no one will bother you unless you want to let them in. That was the place I went three months after Barry's death to decide how to live the rest of my life. The people I met there when we all gathered to eat in the large dining hall became special to me. I will never forget them. 


Dining Hall at Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, NC.
Maybe I am sitting at one of those round tables.

I had to stop going to Wildacres because unloading my car and reloading to go home became too much for me. Even the long walk down to eat was difficult at the time. Now I have learned that Mike, the director who was there, has resigned and a new person runs the place. I don't think it would be the same. Mike's sister and I became good friends. Marsha wouldn't be there now. It just wouldn't be the same. I have many happy memories of Wildacres and the people who were always there when I attended the Gathering in the spring or in the fall.

 Tara Lynne Groth gives good tips on planning a private writing retreat similar to what I dream about. 

I can have a writing retreat right here in my own home. Maybe I will do that this winter.
I just have to close out the rest of the world and put a Do Not Disturb sign on my brain.







2 comments:

Barb said...

I used to dream about having “a room of my own” when the kids were small. Now, I have that room but like you, I allow distractions in. Writing, thy name is discipline! I enjoyed your post.

Glenda Council Beall said...

Thanks, Barb, for your comment here and for letting me know I am not alone. The room is not always enough. We must use it!