To Retreat or Not to Retreat

Writers  dream of time to write without distractions, and some even pay to be left alone in a strange place, coming out only when they have written enough words or chapters to feel they can socialize without guilt. Even though I’m a social creature, I dreamed often of being alone. Then a dear, dear friend built a cabin in the mountains near Telluride, about two hours’ drive from my home. “It’s yours,” she said, “to use whenever you want.”

So I do. It’s off the grid on a driveway that winds for a mile from the nearest gravel road. No lights at night. Only the sounds of elk bugling or an occasional bear blundering through the brush. Cougars leave paw prints near the spring. Showering outdoors just as the sun illuminates the far peaks breaks my heart and mind open; some of my best phrases and ideas have been precipitated by steaming spring water flowing over me.

Journal and tea on the deck as the sun rises. Then the laptop booted up in the living room and hour upon hour of nothing to do but write. All the deliberate and overheard conversations find their way into my latest romance or mystery or article. Plot twists that crept out of midnight shadows and dark dreams creep into a chapter here and there. Characters who have been giving me the silent treatment suddenly won’t shut up and my fingers can barely keep up with their chatter.

The sun shortens shadows to puddles under the pines at noon. It’s time to recharge the laptop with solar power and myself with a stroll  to my friend’s cabin just down the hill, lunch, conversation on the patio, and then back to writing until cocktail time rolls around.

Would I want to do it every day? Don’t think so. I need other environments, other people, to flesh out my experience. Yet every month or so, between snow melt and the first blizzard I retreat and write because writing saves my sanity and my soul.

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