“Well, back to reality.” – The Supreme Being – Time Bandits
“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” – Groucho Marx
I got home on Saturday afternoon from being away from home and family to attend ConCarolinas, and a weeklong writer’s retreat.
I always come away from these events energized, inspired, and a little humbled to find myself considered a part of, or an equal to – which is much more humbling and, to my mind, surprising – such an incredible bunch of writers.
This week, I busted my ass.
These kinds of opportunities don’t come along for me every day (More like every year – circumstances permitting) and I was determined to make the most of it. I went into the retreat with a very specific goal:
I was going to finish the second round of edits and send them off to my agent by the end of the week.
I got a little bit of a head start during the ConCarolinas weekend due to a combination of waking up early and using that time prior to any panels I wanted to attend, to write.
With the head start, I came into this last week with the task of editing 34 chapters.
To put it in perspective, with my day-to-day writing schedule, this would have taken me roughly 3 weeks to complete (less if I’d elected to work on the weekends). Add to that, some of the edits required a complete rewrite of three chapters.
I did it in 4 days. 2 of those days, I called it a night around 1 am.
That’s not to say that I spent every waking moment writing, but this wasn’t a vacation.
I had a job to do.
Part of it was that the book feels ~Really~ close to being ready for prime time. So much so, that, taking into account the summer vacation months, my agent and I are planning on shopping the book around beginning September first (Stay tuned, Y’all) and that’s pretty exciting.
Another part is that, despite reassurances that I shouldn’t, I feel a little guilty for going, so I needed to make sure that I made it worth the sacrifices my family made, both monetarily and in terms of me being gone, to make it possible for me to do this.
You may be wondering what it’s like to come home after, what would appear to be an ideal writing environment.
It feels pretty damned good.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time and I got a lot of stuff done with a group of folks that I care deeply about.
It wasn’t Home.
At best, this past week was a rough simulation of what it might be as a full time writer. Yes, I’d have more time during the day to write, but it wouldn’t be in those crazy long chunks of time that I had and I sure as hell won’t have someone cooking three squares a day for me.*
You may also be wondering how someone makes that transition from the retreat to reality.
On one hand, the switch is pretty instantaneous. You get home and there you are with your family, the dogs (also family), and the day to day asserts itself.
On the other hand, the switch is gradual. The inspiration is still there, the eagerness to keep going with the Work, to do more. What happens is more of a longer term thing. Saturday was almost pure “I’m home. Stand back while I soak it all in.”
Today, and going forward though, is planning, deciding what to do to keep the fires of inspiration lit, doing all of the little “I really need to do ‘that'” things that came to you during the conversations you had and stories you’ve shared.
Taking stock of where you are, where you want to be, what the next steps in that direction are, and taking those steps.
Bringing the retreat home and making it part of your day to day.
*THANK YOU, CHEF!!
Time: 11:37 am-ish
Music: Demons and Wizards – Beneath These Waves