I’m writing from the study where Brenda and I worked together a few winters ago on The Pen & the Bell. From where I sit, I can see out the sliding glass doors to a stand of madronas, their curved trunks glinting in the fleeting spring sunlight. Beyond them, the waters of Puget Sound ripple, a ferry marking the passage of the day.
Hanging on the wall are three photographs of owls, and they seem to bless my words as they come in fits and starts—more fits than starts today. Some days are like that, and today, I’m letting that be OK, knowing that the perspective I’ve gained by spending a few days in retreat will serve me well in the busy weeks ahead. I may not have written as much as I’d hoped, but I’m able to see my projects with fresh eyes—and to see better what’s needed.
This room holds good memories, good writing energy. I remember when all the letters Brenda and I wrote to each other were laid out in piles on the heavy oak tables, and we walked among them with Sticky Notes, mulling on all the possibilities for order. So it’s no surprise that I hear Brenda’s encouraging voice, laugh when I remember the day we wrote letters to each other even though we were working in the same room!
While we all know it’s often not possible to get away—that’s why we wrote The Pen & the Bell—there are times when just a few days in solitude can give you valuable perspective on your work, your life, your relationships.
Consider if you might be able to design such a retreat in the months ahead. You can apply for a residency at one of the many artist/writer residencies throughout the country—or even the world! (Remember, a girl can dream, right?) Or find a house or cabin to rent in the off-season and create your own writing retreat, alone or with friends (the website VRBO is wonderful for finding low-cost options). We hope you’ll tell us about the writing retreats you create!
With gratitude for this time and place—and for you, dear readers, for being here with me.