For a moment I had an inkling to begin writing. Then I started.
I have so, so many things I’ve half-begun and partially drafted and barely scratched the surface of, and knowing when and how to go through it all so some of it might see the light of day is a struggle. Poor Mike.
What might I write to make my own day feel more complete? What might I share that could mean something to another somebody? How much time do I reserve to practice stringing words together, even when nothing seems to step forward from the rest, and present itself as Worthy of Even Doing?
Navel-gazing! Gosh darn it.
I tell myself I would write so many things if only I had a Proper Writing Retreat, away from all My Other Things.
It would take (in my imagination about this scenario) several days to unwind from the regular demands of the typical week.
I would be restless, and bored-eating my way through the cabin’s or cottage’s cupboards, at least for a while.
I would be driving here and there and everywhere else, supporting local coffee joints and gas bars for hundreds of kilometres in every direction, until I finally felt (probably by days five through eleven) that I had done enough moving to feel comfortable staying still for a time.
I would have lots of naps. I would call these “thinking breaks” sometimes, but those would also, at first, become naps. My imagination may wish my fingers to write a novel for it (well, for all of us), but my fingers will side with their body in first needing to fully shut down (except for the blood-pumping bits). And so the imagination would lose at first to the body that carries it around, because that thing needs to relax. The imagination will thank it later, but doesn’t yet know it (being more about imagining than understanding).
I am drawn in my mind to get through this restlessness and onto the other side, where quiet and calm can finally claim me, at least for a time. And if I had a Proper Writing Retreat, this is what I would (eventually) manage to do.
With this unwinding finally done, and with more than enough days left ahead to do with what I will, I might then correctly begin.
There would be a wall for sticky notes. Just like I imagine it happens with some writers who are actually working writers. I imagine there would be windows, for the requisite inspiration and connection to Nature. Outside of these, of course, would be more Nature than not.
I would have a thinking couch, for the naps and the thinking breaks, and it would be a comfy one. It would be long enough to be comfortable to lie down on, and if we’re being honest I would end up preferring it to the cabin’s bed for general sleeping purposes on at least half my evenings. There would be one or more hand-made blankets or shawls thrown over it – just the right amount for all occasions and temperatures.
I would have a table to work at, and also a porch. A screened veranda (peeling paint is quite fine) would permit work out in the open air, but still close to bathrooms and sinks and couches and books, and away from biting bugs, who might need their meal, but not more than I need my peace.
I am skipping all the process part, because of course in my imagination, the Proper Writing Retreat comes with more than enough space and time to figure that out properly. That’s what all the restlessness is for, in the beginning – moving around to release the body’s need to move around, so the mind can then move around, supported and encouraged by a body that has found some functional peace.
In that period of quieting the latter down, the former begins to spin in better ways. It takes control. It’s been waiting for this for too long, and it knows what to do.
Bonus Update: Some members of my household have requested that we play a Dungeons & Dragons game, and I won’t lie, I have been quietly, secretly waiting for this day for Quite Some Time. It occurs to me I might start writing about that, and so that’s what might happen.
Tonight, we are working on the main characters. Characters are the heart of any role-playing game, and starting with defining those is where I like to begin. How does a storyteller decide on a story, before first being introduced to its main protagonists, their characteristics, and their hopes and dreams?
More soon. I need ten minutes with no screens. The body continues to poke the mind, reminding it to please-kindly share our shared time. There is an outdoors to consider. There is wind and sound it needs to feel. Its fingers press Publish, its eyes already elsewhere, nowhere – it wants to regard a horizon until it’s full of horizon for now. The mind will appreciate it too. At times, they are more one than not.