Creating your own writer’s retreat

My writing friend Amanda and I were jonesing to get away from the daily routine of work, kids, and family to delve into writing projects—a poetry manuscript for her, a memoir for me. We applied for a joint residency but didn’t get it, so I suggested we create our own retreat. On a budget, that’s not easy to do.

Idyllic little cabins near the coast (or anywhere really!) through Air B&B or VRBO were cost prohibitive. And in a wet January, camping didn’t seem the best option either. But my stepmom owns a little old house five hours north in Grants Pass, Oregon. Who is up for a drive?!

The Rogue River from the backyard.
The Rogue River from the backyard.

With only four days, we would have two solid days of writing, with two days on either end of some writing and lots of driving. Perhaps not ideal, but better than nothing.

We stop for a late lunch in Ashland on the way north where we find a divine mushroom burger with caramelized onions and fontina cheese on a brioche bun toasted with garlic oil. And a Caesar salad with half slice of anchovy on top…and fries! Good thing we shared. Continue reading “Creating your own writer’s retreat”

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Running away from myself…

I’ve gotten really good at running lately. You wouldn’t know it from looking at my thighs, but my monkey mind takes off running like a bear is chasing it every time I have an hour to sit down and write a few pages for my memoir. And I see the most amazing things…like the black mildew in corners of the shower that I didn’t notice yesterday. Just a sec, I gotta go get the bleach spray bottle.

Then I have to go pee and notice the toilet hasn’t been scrubbed since last week when company was coming over. Where did that fine layer of hair and dirt come from on the floor? Ok, the broom will take care of that. Opening the laundry area doors to get the broom reminds me to start a load of wash so I can hang it to dry while the sun is still out. I’m thirsty and go into the kitchen to make a glass of iced tea. A little caffeine will help get me going on this writing project. Damn, I forgot about those dishes from last night. No worries, they can wait while I make a pot of popcorn ‘cause now I’m a little hungry.

I grab the step stool to reach the vegetable oil from the top cabinet shelf and feel nasty grime over the door pull. Grease spatters from the stovetop below are covered with dust up here. It’s really gross. I need to grab the bottle of 409. Wait, is that good for painted surfaces? I should use the other cleaner under the sink in the guest bathroom. The cat comes out of the litter box as I get there and the stink reminds me to clean out his litter box. Ya know, the toilet in here needs scrubbing too. I finish and as I’m washing my hands, I see the soap container is nearly empty. I need to start a grocery list so I won’t forget it next time. What else do we need from the store?

I open the fridge and a funky smell wafts past. Where is that coming from? Veggie drawer is the likely culprit. Sure enough, the kale I should have used in my super green smoothie a few days ago has reached the slime stage. Into the compost bucket…that is now full. I take the compost bucket out back and see I forgot to deep water the tomatoes this morning. It’s been a couple days. And the basil is looking a little peaked too. But oh, there’s a lovely green dragonfly. I run inside to grab my camera. After taking a few shots, I’m getting warm, so I head back inside to get that iced tea and bring it out to the back yard. Think I’ll just put my feet up for a few minutes. I can’t remember what I was going to do anyway.

While I write this to make fun of myself, it’s all too real. There are scenes that I have tried to write lately only to get one sentence down and then I find a wall blocking my way. J says it’s because there’s something deep there I haven’t dealt with yet. Mind you, these are events from more than 20 years ago that I’m trying to write. While some of that time comes out of me in waves, this experience apparently won’t be so easy. 

Getting out of my comfort zone aka “rut”!

Why wait for the New Year to start with a resolution to reinvigorate my writing habits? I’ve been in a rut for a bit. Excuses abound—full-time job, moving to a new house, kids…you name it. Enough already. I stumbled upon a great idea to get me back on track—Reverb 10, an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Participants receive a new writing prompt daily via e-mail. OK, so I didn’t see this on Dec. 1st when all the fun began, but I’m jumping in now and will try to get caught up on past prompts. (This is also a way to keep me accountable to my writing group!)

Eleanor Roosevelt: “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

Ok, Eleanor, here it goes…