Saturday, May 23, 2015

Day Four of Writing Retreat

My last full day of reading, editing, and revision.

I’d been trying to wrap up this book for a long time. Editing a chapter here and a chapter there. My critiquing group has been a major help. I’m grateful to have their support and expertise. But it seemed like this project was dragging on forever. That’s why I chose to get away and concentrate on the last few chapters. Besides, I LOVE going away to write. It's the most awesome experience. Normally.

There wasn’t the same rush of adrenalin and enthusiasm I generally experience when I’m away working on a final draft. It’s been a struggle to work when I’m feeling this sick. Timing is everything. Coming down with a nasty cold the first day was not part of the plan. A clear head would have helped.

Generally, I make the most of my time away. Napping instead of sleeping. That’s all I need when I’m totally focused on my work. I get so caught up in it. It’s like a massive burst of energy. Well, I don’t have to tell you that energy didn’t make it this trip.
Each night I fell into bed at 9:00 and slept until morning. So much lost time. Even though one of my mornings began at 4:30.


I still accomplished a good deal and my book now deserves the final draft stamp. Even though I’ve outlined another three chapters. Everything I’ve finished to date has received the final edit. I’m happy about that. I'd have been even happier if I’d written those chapters but it’s time to go. I’ll work on the new chapters after I return home.

I’m disappointed that this retreat has not measured up to those in the past, but I accomplished what I set out to do. I have to be content with that. There’ll be other writing getaways…other books. I’m anxious to get back to my unfinished mystery novel, but that will have to wait just a bit longer.

My husband and I look forward to spending the summer gardening, boating, and barbequing. I promised.

This morning I have total laryngitis, not even a squeak, so it’ll still be quiet around the house after I return. Somehow, I don’t think hubby will mind that.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Day Three of Writing Retreat

Normally during a retreat, I survive on two to three hour naps. I’m usually so psyched that I can work long stretches of time. Really, that’s the whole idea of getting away to write. No interruptions. No routine. It’s incredibly awesome. A marathon of writing. Or editing, in this case.

During this retreat, even the word marathon makes my sinuses throb. All things considered, there’s been good progress on my editing. Using the mind over matter technique, I made a valiant effort to deny my cold symptoms the power to slow my work process. And I was successful. For a good three hours of editing. Make that a great three hours. After that, I started to fade. Just a bit. I hung in there for several more hours.

In that time, I edited another four chapters. Not bad, but not enough. I expected to be farther along at this point. After all, the manuscript was perfect. It was just a matter of turning the pages. Good, good, good, and good. How long could it take. I’m kidding, of course. I did a few rewrites. Nothing major but more time-consuming than nodding my head and turning a page.

The important thing is that I’m satisfied—make that pleased—with all the chapters I’ve completed. The question now is, do I have time to finish the book by deadline. My own deadline. The end of the retreat. I could stay an extra day, a definite probability, or wish I’d packed it in when I got sick, and re-scheduled. Well, it’s too late to pack it in.

Along with the other cold symptoms—headache, throbbing sinuses, fatigue, fever—I’ve lost my voice. Some of you may wonder why that is a big deal. After all, I’m by myself. Why would I need to talk? Writers would recognize the setback. Reading my work aloud is one of the most effective methods of editing. But let’s look on the bright side. Sure, I can’t read my work aloud now, but by keeping my mouth shut I won’t cough as much—that croupy throat-tearing cough. That’s a good thing. Right?

Here’s to speedier progress, my friends. Wish me luck. Only a few more chapters to go…

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day Two of Writing Retreat

It wasn’t until I closed my eyes that I saw the problem. I’ll remember in the morning, I told myself. I repeated the solution over and over in my mind. I finally threw back the covers and fumbled for the light. There, I thought, as I put the pen down.

Back in bed, the title of the new chapter came to me. I’ll remember, I thought. Yep, you guessed it. I stumbled from bed, wrote down the title, and crawled back. I wasn’t feeling well and besides I had bigger problems. For one thing, I was out of chocolate and down a half bottle of wine. Not to worry, I have lots of green tea and baby carrots. Okay, I’m not short of food but the good stuff is in short supply. Or gone.

That’s not all. The scratchy throat that I’ve mostly ignored for the past few days has been getting worse. This morning I feel like crap. My throat, my sinuses, my head. Oh no, this can’t be happening. I have a deadline here.

Then I did it. Something I try to avoid at all costs. I took a cold pill. Then I drank two mugs of hot water and lemon. Toasted a bagel and made a strong cup of coffee. I’m going to be fine, I told myself. And promptly curled up on the bed and fell asleep. You see, that’s the way cold pills affect me.

I only slept for an hour but felt a little groggy when I woke. That’s when I leaped to my feet. This cold is not going to slow me down. I turned on the shower as hot as I could stand it. If the smell of sulphur water doesn’t kill me, it just might cure me. A woman on a mission, I scrubbed until my skin was pink and my hair was squeaky. I’m in control, not this nasty cold.

Rather than letting my hair air dry, I reached for the hairdryer. Bloody thing must be on a timer. Every couple of minutes it shut down. That wasn’t going to stop me. I slathered myself in scented body lotion and put on a complete set of new clothes. There’d be no slouching braless in a sweatshirt for me today. Every few minutes I’d grab the hairdryer for another two minutes of fluffing.

That wasn’t enough. I opened up my suitcase again. I know I packed it. There it was. A small green case. Lipstick, mascara, face cream. The works. I preened in front of the mirror. Look good—Feel good. Right? That is what they say.

I flung open two windows on the sunny side and turned up the heat. Still too cold to sit outside but at least it’s sunny and the air is fresh.

I have to admit that I feel pretty good right now. Half the morning is gone and I haven’t been too productive on editing my book, BUT it’s going to get better. I can feel it every time I blow my nose and clear my throat. Hallelujah! I’m feelin’ good.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day One of Writing Retreat

The accommodations are a little more ‘rustic’ than I anticipated. The musty smell slightly more prevalent. These units were probably closed up for most of the winter. I expected them to smell stale and unused. I unpack my scented candle and put it to work before I unpack anything else.

At the sight of the Out of Order sign on the fridge, I gulp, until I notice the portable unit right across from it. I quickly pull open the door. Good. It’s working. Hauling my soft-sided cooler closer, I unload all my goodies into the little fridge. When I stand up, I crack my head on the corner of the cupboard. Staggering back a couple of steps, I press my fingers on the tender bump and look for blood. No blood.

Anxious to get set up, I reach for the case with my printer. I brought power bars and extension cords but it looks like I’ll be okay without them.

The small square table is the perfect size for my laptop and printer. I’m in business.

I think I should start with a cup of tea. I put water in the kettle and…the cord is too short to reach the low receptacle. I check the bathroom. Yes, a receptacle…but it doesn’t work. I hit the reset button a few times and manage to get the power back. No problem.

Rubbing my arms against the chill in the room. I decide to close the windows, which are all open, presumably to air the place. I turn on the heater. It looks brand new and it works great.

Though it’s late afternoon before I actually start editing my book, I complete two chapters and print hard copies for that final, final edit. I can’t say that the creative juices are flowing. Everything seems strange to me and I’m not fully settled in.

With every sound I hear, I rush to the window. Much like Lex at home. I tell her it’s none of her business when someone pulls into the neighbour’s driveway. Stop barking. Now I know how she feels. One can’t ignore something like that. Only I don’t bark. But I do use it as an excuse to grab something to munch. Work progresses slowly.

Fatigue set in around 9:00. Unfortunately, I’d been up since 4 AM. It was just one of those mornings. It happens. Pulling back the bedspread to do that little black-speck-around-the-edge-of-the-mattress check, I discover that though the room smells musty, the bedding smells freshly laundered. And, oh yeah, there are no black specks.

I can’t sleep. My throat closes up. The stale air is making me feel ill. I am up several times before I open a window. There’s a rush of fresh cold air. I feel guilty that the heater ran all night long, but I had a decent sleep.

So now, it’s morning. My first morning here. I prepare my hot water and lemon and somehow the place looks better than it did yesterday. Quaint even.
Think I’ll toast a blueberry bagel, make a coffee, and do what I came here to do…focus on finishing this book.