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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Writer's Retreat

Others in my racket were heading to Vegas for the ALA to advance their careers and bask in the kid-lit glow. But serious wordsmith that I am, I planned a solo writer’s retreat instead. Just me, Wally-the-dog, and the lap-top I borrowed from my daughter.

Deb & Avi had offered me their new house on their 500 tree orange grove near the little town of Fillmore. Wally and I drove up through farm land and mountains to get the key ahead of time.                        

Upon our arrival, Wally lifted his leg and piddled on the brand new floor. He was promptly uninvited to join me on my retreat. Adjust image: Erase Wally from my side. Done.

A few days later I was off! The drive was lovely. I stopped at a picturesque fruit stand and loaded up enough strawberries and mangoes to last forever.

It was still morning when I arrived in paradise. There was a perfect breeze with birdsong and an occasional horse neigh to really put the smack of country on it. The view was  orange trees, windmills, distant mountains, and sky. 

I had never been so wonderfully alone.

I took off my bra, set up the computer and sat down to write. 

This has been a problematic novel from the start, but then, they all are. I was liking it on the re-read. Luckily, I have the same taste as myself and often find my writing compelling. It helps, too that I have a wonky memory so that after these cupla months away from it the goings-on of the plot were taking me by surprise. 

There was no wi-fi at the house and I was not ready to go cold turkey, so late afternoon I put the bra back on and went into town to find the Fillmore Library. They had one copy of The Girls, sparing us both a great deal of embarrassment. I signed it and checked my e-mail. 

On my way back down the main street, many stores called to me, including, “Little Shop of Hoarders.” But I snubbed them and returned to the house to write. 
It was around then that I realized I’d forgotten the bag with my meds: hormones and anti-depressents, without which I would either be unable to drag myself out of Deb & Avi’s loft bed, or I’d run amok in sweet little Fillmore with a machete.

Daughter to the rescue, (an hour drive each way) with all three dogs and a bag of fries. She called later to report that two of the three dogs barfed in the car on the way home. One barfed twice so it was as if all three had. 
Alone again. On the deck watching the bats shuck and jive. Then a pink, swirly sunset followed by stars galore. Ah!

Awakened early by what I thought was hammering. Discovered a crazed brown bird hurling himself head first at the window. The amount of bird turd on the deck told me that this was not his first morning at it.

A day of coffee, strawberries, weeding, watering, and a bit of writing, warming up, easing into it to really kick-ass tomorrow.  But first, back on the deck ready for the sunset / star show. 8:pm. Cue bats. 

Then a man appeared out of the orange trees below me! 

He said, “Mr. Avi?”

Me: “He’s not here.”

The man walked up the steps, so I leaned over the rail and calmly repeated, “MR. AVI IS NOT HERE!!”

But the guy opened the door and came right in! He mumbled something about installing a water heater and needing to turn the water off at 7:am tomorrow. He asked me if I was staying there over night.

He stood in the living room, near an odd blue machine-thing that I’d noticed but ignored. Maybe it was a water heater. Maybe it was a surface to air missile. In any case I was creeped out.
When he finally left, my whole aloneness had been punctured. So, I shoved my stuff in my bag and this little piggy ran wee wee wee all the way home. 

Is it too late to make it to Las Vegas? 
xo Amy


Suzanne Morrone said...

I think you did the right thing, it probably was a surface to air missile. But how horrible that your alone time was destroyed. You got the bat time, which is never bad, and you got to re-read your novel so it felt fresh. So a lot accomplished in my book.

Susan B James said...

I'm impressed that you did two days with some revision. Love "cue Bats" and the swirly sunset.
If I get two days revision in a row I am going to stand up and dance.
Thank you for another lovely read.

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Everything you write is worth reading. Thank you,