Is there a perfect place to write? Perhaps not, but surely one place is not as good as another. In my overly busy and often chaotic house, choosing a place to write is far less important than choosing the best time to write. Yet, any choice when confined to the house is unsatisfying. I long for solitude and hours on end, uninterrupted. I’m unclear, just what has changed, but I used to be capable of writing amidst the chaos and incessant interruptions, which are my life, and now, it seems I wait for the perfect time in the perfect place. It is probably no mystery; it is probably age. My patience for things and situations less than perfect has diminished in other areas as well. I feel wistful for younger years when I handled so much more with greater clarity and promptitude. At this moment, I’m suddenly aware of how this makes me sound more like a senior citizen than the 50ish middle-ager I am. Laughably, the “younger years” of which I speak are literally and barely half a decade past. Maybe this lack of patience and unwillingness is nothing more than shifting hormones or eating wrong. Let’s save that possibility for a later blog.
Anyway, I have proven to myself a number of times the benefit I derive from writing in complete solitude. My favorite was a tiny cabin I was privileged to use once – bromidic, I know, but absolutely the best place I’ve written. I was completely alone. Besides the birds and occasional lake murmurs, the quiet was palpable, and the expanse of cool black water and sheltering pines hugging the cottage were a calming counterpoint to my furious typing. In just one night, I easily cranked out several chapters making me yearn for a whole week there alone. Still I left the next morning with high hopes of stealing away every now and then to the mostly unused retreat, which lay a mere 40 minutes from home. I pictured even in the bitterest cold coming for a night now and then to joyously write unencumbered in delicious solitude. Alas, my hopes were dashed, and the cabin was no longer available for overnight excursions.
The second best experience I had was handed me by my husband, who used his Marriott points to get me a free room for two nights of undisturbed brainstorming when I sketched out more than half of the entire second book. I chose a town 50 minutes away, far enough from home that no one would be tempted to pop-in on mom or wife, but close enough that I would not lose precious writing time. I arrived with two giant dry-erase boards, a plastic container of pens, pencils, and dry-erase markers, three legal pads, my laptop and a small cooler. Besides breakfast, which had to be eaten in the lobby – had to be because it was free – I never left the room, not even for ice. I scribbled, I scratched and hatched on the boards, I paced back and forth, talking aloud, tossing ideas out, nailing down timelines and characters, until chapters and even the exciting climax were roughed out. I was so on fire with it all that even on the ride home, my mind would not cease coming up with details, which I scrawled illegibly on a legal pad as I drove left-handed, until 10 minutes from home, I stopped at a McDonald’s for a cup of coffee and sat in a booth for an hour continuing to solidify my story.
I get excited just remembering it. As a family, we have had a lot going on this year, from the loss of my brother to the near loss of my mother. The volunteer work I do also churned up a notch. Meanwhile, my poor book sits completely unattended, 2/3 of the way complete, and completely uncomplaining in the face of much more important work. But I trust when I am given that supreme opportunity for complete solitude again, the last third will write itself.