Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Room of My Own

I chose the Chatham Room of the Beach Rose Inn as the location for my mini writer's retreat because of the little seating area in the corner of the bedroom. Little did I know how pivotal a role this beautiful room would play when I finally decided that I was ready to blast through years of writer's block.

It wasn't the plug-in fireplace, or the Victorian styled lamp that captured my imagination - it was the idea of having somewhere to write that looked comfortable and private.

What I didn't tell you in my previous entry was how I created the perfect nest to nurture the writing child within me. I had packed my tool kit with all the ammunition I could find to do battle with my creative monsters. These tools were set up around my room within an hour of my arrival.

My printer was plugged into the socket behind my chair and the ream of recycled paper was opened.

The box containing years of novel notes
(both scribbled and printed) was organized with small post-it stickies. My word count color chart was placed on top of the pretend wood stove. It clearly showed me that I was only half way to my goal of 100,000 words.

My blue writing candle was set on one of the nesting tables opposite my wing back chair, along with a DVD about a mustang sanctuary and copy of Writer's Digest telling me to "Write Your Novel in 2009".
I cleared the antique hair brush and comb set from the top of the dresser (which concealed a TV that I never used) and laid out a display of crystals, wine, water and a photograph of John Cusack - hey, with his eyes on you all day you'd want to stay on task too!

Let's review: a  hot tub in the garden, red wine, home made chocolate, my trusted iBook (with thumb drive to back up all files) and one of my favorite actors  playing guardian to my writing schedule - what more could a girl possibly ask for?

John Cusack in person perhaps?

I felt like a child as I arranged my favorite writing tools around me, allowing myself the glorious privilege of unreserved indulgence.

I sat in the chair, then got up again to stuff a pillow behind my back. Moments after I began the unfamiliar task of moving my fingers around the yellowing keys of my lap top I decided I needed to pee.

It took me some time to settle into a rhythm of writing that did not include jumping up and down every five seconds for a pencil, my fluffy slippers, a glass of water, or a prolonged conversation with my ten inch teddy bear, who was also witnessing my evasion techniques from the seat of a wooden stool by the window.

Any fantasy that I may have had about writing brand new pages was soon dispelled by the reality of the continual review then edit cycle. I found myself reading over chapters I had written so long ago that I didn't even recognize the writing as my own. It was almost 4pm before I realized that I was hungry for lunch.

I must have been a girl scout in a past life because I'd packed whole wheat bread, peanut butter, banana's and hot chocolate packets for Wednesday and Thursday's lunch. I ate in my chair with my lap top opened on my knee.

I was officially in the flow of writing, communicating with characters who had hounded me relentlessly to just show up and listen to what they had to say. Their voices grew louder as my fingers became used to flying over the keys. I was honestly startled when I did a word count. I found a pencil and shaded in the space between 50 and 60,000 words.

I hit a wall when I had to write a new chapter that takes place in Sedona. Having been there several years ago, I realized that memory alone wasn't going to give me the color and texture I needed to complete my scenes. I closed my iBook and left the lap top fan running to cool down its hot little hardrive.

The wooden floorboards creaked under my weight as I crept down the corridor of the old Inn and down the stairs leading into the dining area and study, where a guest computer was set up.

I made hot chocolate in my favorite china cup (which I had also packed) and settled in for a web surfing session that turned into two hours of copious note-taking and photograph reviews.

By the time I was done with my research, my friend and hostess had set out a bowl of salad and homemade pizza on the dining table for supper. I continued taking notes as I ate.

It was hard to return to my room because I knew I'd have to get right back to my story. I felt tired and wanted to watch crap on television, but I also knew that the TV was one of my strongest writer's blocks. I promised myself a nice glass of wine if I wrote just one more paragraph from the research I had completed.

I soon became lost in a jumble of old and new pages because I was weaving a developing sub plot into the text I had already written. Piles of papers sprang up around me as I tried to straighten up the growing chaos in my mind.

I scribbled notes and partial sentences on the back of my synopsis, then on the back of anything that was not an official 'page' of my novel. Once again I lost all sense of time. Three hours later I closed my lap top and gave myself permission to call it a night.

Before crawling into bed, I updated my writing journal and discovered that I had written for a total of 11 hours between 7:00am and 11:30pm. I drew smiley faces and stuck colored foil stars next to each entry for that day. I don't remember how long it took me to fall asleep.

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