Solo Retreat

Edith, all by herself gazing out at the Ipswich salt marsh.

View from the living room.
View from the living room.
LaBelle in the living room.

Despite the joy and exhilaration of having a new book out – which really never gets old, even though this is my fifth published mystery novel – I do have more books to write.

Rumpole in his chair.

I have a dear friend who lives alone in a lovely small house on a quiet dead-end road facing some of the salt marshes common to the town where I previously lived. She has three elderly rescue cats and likes to travel. I had mentioned to her that if she ever wanted me to come and cat sit, I’d be happy to. Sure enough, she’s off to New York for the week with her good friend to celebrate their eightieth birthdays.

IMG_20150603_084052_835So I have five days here alone at a kitchen table with my laptop, my cadaver friend, some simple meals, a box of wine, gorgeous scenery, and a mystery to write. I can see marshhawks, hummingbirds, and egrets, and hear crows outside and a cat dreaming inside.

I set the timer for an hour and do sprint after sprint, after the fashion of Ramona DeFelice Long. Better yet, the only internet access is at my friend’s desk in another room, so I am much less distracted by my Facebook addiction and the other lures of cyberspace. To check the Interwebs, I have to stand, walk across a room, up two steps, and into another room.

Jeeves catching a spot of sun.
Jeeves catching a spot of sun.

I take a walk outside now and then, maybe even venture over to Crane Beach or take my old walk along Labor in Vain Road. But mostly I’m head down cranking out some serious word count – 8000 new ones since Monday afternoon (will report in again at end of day). I’ll head home on Friday, just in time to get ready for my book launch party at Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport (June 5 at 7 PM) – you’re all invited!

Thanks so much to my fellow Wickeds and all the rest of you fabulous readers who have offered congratulations and enthusiasm for my books this week and last. I’m on a two-week blog tour with Great Escapes Book Tours – schedule here – with lots of giveaways, in case you’re interested. Now, it’s back to the salt mines.

Readers – Tell us about your favorite retreat spot. Your dream getaway, even!

25 Thoughts

  1. What you’re doing seems so peaceful even though you are working hard at your writing. It’s a lovely peaceful scene you present, even as a working space. I love the saltmarshes around the north shore. Steve and I usually go over to one near the beach in Gloucester, Essex actually, and look out across from Woodman’s as we eat our fried clams at one of their picnic tables. We’ve never really explored the area. My Paine ancestors came from there, nearby in Ipswich, and it has a mystical presence in my heart that I’m not sure I understand, but I’m happy it’s there. We like to go there and enjoy the fresh air and end the evenings over in Gloucester for supper while we watch the activity on the dock. The beaches like Crane’s and Salisbury are so beautiful and vivid in my childhood memories. I saw my first horseshoe crab there having a walk with my father. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen one. I love Marblehead and Salem, especially, but our getaway is more over toward Essex and Ipswich. I think it would be hard to go there alone. Nevertheless, that area would be where I would retreat. I could be alone there in a way I could never be alone in Salem.

    1. It’s a gorgeous area for sure, Reine. Very peaceful. I took my favorite walk yesterday and will head out for it today, too.

      1. I always find it a great inspiration to be out and feeling a part of the natural surrounding. Even in the largest cities, if you live near the ocean you can have this experience.

  2. This is why I fantasize about that cottage in Ireland. Quiet. Dark nights. No cars, no streetlights. Maybe a cow lowing over the hill. And endless views, with the occasional rainbow thrown in. Although I might spend a lot of time staring out the window rather than at my laptop.

    1. That happens, too, Sheila. But I like to think of it as mental writing time. Stuff is brewing as I stare at the marsh hawk.

  3. I do great brainstorming and organizing of thoughts and plotting while on a train into NYC. The flowing scenery, the steady and straight-ahead movement, all do something to the brain. Maybe I need to go in more often, just to ride the train and get new images in front of my eyes? I do believe different sights in front of our eyes make a difference, too.

  4. I love renting a house one the coast of Maine. I don’t get to very often but it’s a joy when I do. Enjoy the rest of your retreat.

  5. What wonderful writing time. And we get to share the results!

    I’d probably spend the time reading if I had your opportunity. Maybe I’d finally get somewhere on my massive TBR mountain range.

  6. Hi..this is the first time i have read your info. I am on a bus in n yorkshire..amazed that i can get this on a bus!
    I would like to read the book about the snow and the organic gardener but have never seen these in the u.k do you have a stockist in n england?
    I would find the solitary bit rather scary. I live alone,have raised 4 kids pretty much alone,they do well,but i am endlessly anxious nowadays..hearing about others who actually enjoy solitude is helping me…thank you. I guess i feel a failure on my own!

  7. When I taught in Jamaica, I did final grade reports one afternoon outdoors by the pool of a lovely hotel. I wasn’t staying there, could never have afforded it, but some sweet Chinese gentlemen, there to work out some import/export deals, had told me to use their names and room number anytime I wanted to visit the pool — some cultures do respect teachers. A good hotel would be an ideal retreat . . . away from the ordinary and having someone else take care of housekeeping and meals. It wouldn’t even have to be lush; I once had a lovely contemplative writing time by staying over an extra night after a conference, mostly to be well-rested for the drive back from Texas to St. Louis. A cruise would work also. We had several very productive storytelling cruises, holding class during at-sea times and working in details from our shore excursions.

    1. A cruise! Anywhere, really. I do bring my own food, but I keep it really simple. No cooking other than making coffee and microwaving something for dinner.

  8. I would love to borrow your friend….I discovered a long time ago that getting out of my house, and spending time alone, jump starts my creativity. I’m so happy you have embraced retreats, too, Edith. The value of time, quiet, and different walls/view to stare at are immeasurable.

    Sprinting is a gift, isn’t it? And it’s so simple. But the key is the camaraderie, so I’m grateful to the folks that show up and sign in every morning, whether it is on retreat or from home.

    1. And here I thought the key was staying on task, Ramona! For me this week it has helped a HUGE amount to have my writing and the internet on separate computes in separate rooms. I love the camaraderie, but for real productivity, I need no distractions.

      1. Edith, I meant the other sprinters who will give you a hard time if you don’t sign in and get your words done! Camaraderie was probably the wrong word. I should have said peer pressure!

  9. Edith, your retreat sounds lovely. Wine, cats, laptop, peace and quiet–what’s not to like? You’ve inspired me to look at the empty “cottage” in my back yard in a whole new way. It’s incredibly noisy here in my “real” office and the booming car stereos are very distracting. It’s hard to write while yelling obscenities in their direction. 🙂 And there’s no reliable internet out there, either.

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