For the last couple of weeks I have had the great opportunity to write at an artists' retreat in remote Wyoming. I had been saying to myself (and actually out loud to others) for the last few weeks of 2016 that I needed to get away from the busy-ness of my every day, from the work of festival planning, and from everything that was taking my attention away from the writing.
This time has been life-saving.
I was so out of balance in every way and this retreat has given me a chance to step back, slow down, and recalibrate. And, let's not forget: WRITE! I didn't realize how much I missed writing on a daily basis. It has been a struggle on many days even though I have all day and all the space to write. And luckily I've been able to find fixes (even if short-term) for the blocks and the resistance.
- Read. I simply have not read enough. Don't get me wrong. I have read a lot of great books in the last couple of years--many forthcoming that I blurbed and many that hit the shelves in bookstores and I had the pleasure of interviewing the authors. But I haven't been reading writing that informs the work. I have spent a lot of time doing that here in the last two weeks. I worried at first I was spending too much time reading (a couple of days I didn't write anything but journal writing and read the rest of the day). But I can see how necessary it is. How I'm seeing the fault lines in my own writing as I read really great books that I admire.
- Write anything. The goal for this residency is still to have a shitty draft done by the time I leave in in just 7 days. It's do-able, and yes, it will be a truly shitty draft. So it's hard to write those dead sentences just to make sure I have a beginning, middle and end that I work on to REVISE. So, yeah, I've taken some breaks from that writing and decided to write other things: journal writing; goal-setting brainstorming; brainstorming about the novel; snippets of possible essays; bad drafts of flash fiction stories; and yes, now this. As long as I keep the writing in a separate compartment from everything else, it becomes too precious, too scary, too difficult to tackle or connect with.
- Naps. Naps are a part of my weekend life. Here they are a part of my everyday. I wake up at 4:30pm so around 2pm or 3pm, I set an alarm for 30 to 45 minutes and try to dream up the next words I'm going to write. That's worked just once so far, but I'll keep trying.
I've also found my way outside to enjoy the amazingly beautiful scenery. The first two weeks were very cold with lots of snow (some 20 inches? over the course of the days. But it has been a balmy 37 degrees and the sun is out. I've snowshoed (once) --dang that is hard! I thought it was just walking. It's walking plus--I definitely worked up a serious sweat. And I've walked up to the lodge and back (a short walk but there's a nice hill to face). I just cannot describe how beautiful and peaceful it is here. But maybe you can see in these photos.
So, I'm 7 days away from heading back to civilization. Wish me words!