Thursday, July 14, 2016

Things You Learn on Your First Writing Retreat

-     Writing some place outside of your house and writing inside your house are two vastly different enterprises. With one, there are additional tasks constantly clamoring for your attention. With the other, your only distraction is yourself. And the internet. And food.
-     If a rental place looks rustic online, it is probably very rustic. Very.
-     If a rental place looks like it offers exposure to natural elements, it is very likely those natural elements will come to visit you inside the rental place.
-    You may lose some time chasing ants out of the kitchen.
-    You can really get a ton of writing done if you’re sitting in that chair twelve to fourteen hours a day.
-     Your house, with you not in it, will not burn down (probably).
-     Your husband, the fire chief in your absence, deserves a medal.
-    On retreat, many more meals and snacks are required than when you’re not on retreat. It’s probably good that retreats don’t happen often, or all writers would weigh six hundred pounds.

-   When your weather app says it will be 100 degrees in Joshua Tree, it will be probably, in fact, be 100 degrees and therefore, too hot to sit on that patio you admired online.

-   Your kid will still expect you to be the house’s IT person, even though you can’t really do much about his iPhone from Joshua Tree.

-   Natural elements make a lot of noises. Especially at night.
     -  When you cry over your writing while on retreat, nobody knows about it except you, and the desolate desert nightscape, and that goddamn, unidentifiable bug that can somehow fly AND crawl AND hide under the covers.
-    Motrin PM will help you sleep while the bug crawls over your lifeless body.
-    Just like at your house, three hours can pass in an instant when you’re immersed with your characters.
-    All of the stories you write on retreat will involve characters drinking wine.
-    Twenty minutes of yoga a day is not enough to combat the excess calories entering your body. But don’t worry about that...keep writing!
-    You will feel guilty for missing your kid’s baseball game, and your other kid’s first day of camp, but you’ll know you’re doing them a favor by expending your creative urges. Really.
-    You will have no dogs to snuggle while on retreat and there’s nothing positive about that, except you’ll gain at least an hour a day you would have wasted at home, snuggling.
-    On the third day, when a mouse runs across the floor of your tiny rental place, you will be 100% justified in packing your bags and leaving said rental place within the next twenty minutes.
-    You will cry big, fat tears of relief when you see the fluffy, white bedspread at the Hampton Inn, the pristine white tub, and the proper desk with a comfortable, leather chair. No one will know except you and--that's it, actually, because there are no bugs or mice at the Hampton Inn.
-     You’ll discover something you already sort of knew, in your heart of hearts. You’re a HOTEL person, not an OUTDOORSY person. Nice try, though.
-    You will end your experience with 10,000 new words and an appreciation for your same old desk, at your same old house.
"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka