Keeping current with a blog while coming into the home stretch on a book deadline is more challenging that I thought. So is keeping adequate groceries in the house. Two nights ago I had popcorn for dinner, last night a bowl of cereal, which I also had for breakfast this morning. I ate the last of the cheese at lunch today, and the only crackers left in the packet are the broken ones. Even that last apple in the fruit bowl was a bit soft and wrinkly. The coffee supply is running low too. That’s when it gets really scary.
I thought I might get out for supplies this evening after I closed down the computer, but I finally unbent my legs from their sitting position and walked a few blocks to my new local cafe (Influx at 30th & Upas) for an iced Americano then picked up a veggie burger to go at Veg N Out, across the street. I figured that counted for exercise for the day, too. Something else that’s gone by the wayside these last several weeks.
I’m also a skosh behind on the laundry. I wore the same yoga clothes from morning until night pretty much every day last week, except when I changed back into my pajamas. At least the laundry basket isn’t overflowing. And I figure if you just sleep on one side of the bed, then if you alternate sides after a week you don’t have to change the sheets? Are you on with that?
Why I’m confessing all this in a blog post I can’t say. Maybe I’m hoping for absolution for this unusual streak of slobbishness by the high gods of literature. Or at least few murmurs of understanding from my fellow writers. Maybe an offer from someone to bring over a pizza.
The good news is that the deadline for the book is just a few weeks away. Then things will go back to normal—microwave-ready meals from Trader Joe’s and fresh blog posts every time I change the sheets.
Hope all is well with you.
This is the second part of the Q&A with my friend Anitra following my return from my month-long writing retreat in Idyllwild, a small mountain community in Southern California. While there I worked on my new book, Wild Women, Wild Voices, which will be out next Spring.
Anitra: Did work come out of that concentrated time that might not have in your normal life? Or did it just come faster because you could concentrate more?
Judy: I definitely got more work done in the concentrated time than I would have at home in my “normal” life. I averaged five or six hours at the writing desk each day, in addition to the reading, research, and notes outside of that. The length of time is not so surprising, but the day-in and day-outness of it is something I don’t have in my life at home.
Because I was able to have that time, and because I was isolated—no distractions—the work stayed alive. Mornings began with pages and pages of journal writing with coffee, and thoughts and ideas and doubts and confirmations about the writing and the project itself filled my journal each morning. At the end of the writing day, I often turned to my journal again to write “outside the story,” threads that developed during the writing that I wanted to explore.
I’ve come back down from the mountain (or “down the hill,” as the Idyllwildians say), with my books, my notes, my well-used computer, my drafted pages, my dirty laundry, and whatever leftovers I had from the refrigerator, including, surprisingly enough, a Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate bar and a handful of M&Ms, and so glad to be here.
While I was away, I received an email from my friend and sister writer, Anitra, asking if my experience of a month-long writing retreat might be a productive topic for other writers who might like to go on such a retreat, and asked me several good questions.
Whether my writing about my experience on retreat might be helpful for other writers, I can’t say, but I’m a believer in sharing our experiences, strength, and hope and so following is the first of two parts of my responses to Anitra’s questions.