I recently got back from my first-ever writer’s retreat, AKA Three Days as a High-End Hermit.
I’ve always had this daydream about holing up someplace with good room service and soundproof walls, so I could write nonstop for an uninterrupted period of time.
But my thrifty little self has always been a bit dubious about the value of it. After all, I’m not currently employed outside the home, so supposedly I have vast swaths of time at my disposal anyway. Right?
Of course, my Millennial offspring may both be gainfully employed, but they have moved back in to live with my Beloved and me in our semi-large suburban home because it’s cheaper, we have the room, and they’re saving their money.
But they’re both autonomous adults. Coordinating with them doesn’t take that much time. Of course, I do a daily morning-and-evening shuttle, because the parking at my daughter’s work is insane and we don’t live that far away, so it’s not that hard for me to drop her off and pick her up. Gives us a chance to catch up with each other.
We do have animals to care for and feed and get to the vet as needed, which I do a lot of the time (now that I have lost Jake, all but two of the fish are my daughter’s, but I like her dogs, cats, and even her blind lizard that has to be hand-fed daily). It’s not that much of a chore. Also, there are the usual housekeeping-business things (repairs, insurance claims, contractors) that usually fall to me because I’m home and available.
Oh, and I have regular dates for lunch, coffee, and/or art museum trips or writing workshopping with assorted friends, as well as regular check-ins with my 93-year-old father, who also lives nearby. But a woman can’t be a hermit all the time.
Really. I have lots of time.
For my birthday, my sister Gigi (also a writer, the best friend of a writer, and the widow of a writer) called my bluff this year. She booked me for a weekend at The Fontaine, an elegant little boutique hotel less than two miles from my home, on the west end of the Kansas City Country Club Plaza.
So, kind of dubious but willing to experiment, I packed my clothing, my computer, my sketchbook full of Rana Station visualizations, and my Journal . . . and I checked in.
OMG, the Fontaine is beautiful. Check out their website–but be warned. It doesn’t do them justice. Most especially it doesn’t do the warmth, friendliness and courtesy of the staff justice. I have rarely felt more welcome anywhere. From the moment I wandered in, I was greeted, guided, and offered any help needed–and that “TLC” treatment continued, without fail, no matter who I talked to, for the entire three days I was there.
But I also had some clear objectives and a lot of work to do. I had just sent the first novel in the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy, What’s Bred in the Bone, off to a collection of trusted beta-readers, charged with telling me where it “worked,” where it didn’t, and whether they liked it, preferably by the end of the month. I desperately needed to think about something else and let them read in peace, without getting little “Are you done yet?” “Is it okay?” and “Did you (oh, PLEASE GOD!!!) like it?” messages from me every couple of days.
I had a second and third novel in the trilogy to get a handle on. Yes, I knew in general what I planned to do with them. But specifically? Not so much. At least not in detail. My primary objective for the weekend was to build a timeline for the second novel, A Bone to Pick. I also hoped to rough in a good, much more specific plan for the third novel, Bone of Contention.
On my normal schedule, I’d expect that process to take a while. Possibly a couple of weeks. How much better could I do, uninterrupted?
And I do mean uninterrupted. I went to the lovely brunch each morning for a good, high-protein breakfast. I ordered supper in, either from Room Service or from a favorite local Chinese restaurant. I went on several “thinking walks.” Otherwise, I worked (or slept. I did some of that too. But when I did, I dreamed about what my characters might do in various scenarios. I was that immersed).
Suffice it to say I met my objectives, and then some. I got my second novel’s timeline done. I got my third novel planned out in semi-detail. I even got the next trilogy, and the one after that roughed in. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten this much done, this coherently, in this short a time. Ever.
Any doubts I may have had are gone. The weekend was worth its weight in gold, as far as advancing my projects is concerned. Guess what I mean to do, once I’ve finished A Bone to Pick, and sent it off to my long-suffering betas?
IMAGES: All photos were taken by me. Feel free to re-post any of them you wish: all I ask is an attribution and a link back to this post. Thanks!