I drove down after work on a Friday with a bad cold and stocked a few simple provisions. I set up my netbook, made some tea, and set to writing. My only distractions were my own: going for a walk, reading, thinking. The house did NOT come equipped with internet. This turned out to be a huge blessing. I crossed the street to the library once a day to check for any messages that needed acting on and otherwise left cyberspace alone.
I wrote and wrote and wrote. I took care of my cold and kept writing. I gazed out the back window at the remnants of the Meeting garden, moseyed out to pluck some bits of parsley for my soup, and kept writing. I went for a walk down to the bay and sat and listened to the calm winter lapping of the bay, then went back and kept writing
I had recently re-read Rachel Aaron's post on how she writes 10,000 words a day (and thanks to Ramona DeFelice Long for reminding me of that post last week). One of her secrets is to leave home for few hours. Check, in spades. Another is to only write the interesting scenes (and really, if you aren't compelled to write it, readers probably won't be compelled to read it, either). I had plotted a few scenes ahead. So I jumped to the really interesting one and wrote that. Then I went back and wrote the scenes leading up to that one, making them more interesting, too. Check.
I took meal breaks at the kitchen counter and finished Kaye George's latest funny mystery set in Texas, Smoke, and then started Jeri Westerson's latest in her fabulous Crispin Guest series, Blood Lance, but I only let myself read as long as I was eating. Then, guess what, I kept writing.
I walked through the graveyard to sit in worship with Friends on Sunday morning, then got to know a few of them, handing out bookmarks for Speaking of Murder as I did (well, it does have a Quaker protagonist). Then I went back to write.
My cold was still pretty bad late Sunday night (despite adding a bit of brandy to my tea with honey and lemon) and my cough wasn't fit for human company. I cancelled my plan to drive very early to work on Monday morning and filed for a sick day, instead. I stayed at my writing station until midday on Monday. Final tally for just under 3 full days of retreat? 15,071 words. Wow!
The work in progress is now just under 100 pages long. It isn't due until July 1 but I feel very comfortable with this headway. Sure, it's a rough first draft. Now, though, I am confident that I will have enough time to schedule in revision and polishing before I have to send it off.
Quaker House, I will return to thee.
What's your favorite retreat center? Where are you most productive writing when you can grab a stretch of time, whether it's three hours or three days?