Looking for the Perfect …

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.

Peace all.

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About Carla Coon

Carla Coon has been happily married to her husband Darrell for 25 years, living in Upstate New York and raising their eight children. They are new grandparents to three baby girls. Carla’s first novel, THE GLEN, was born of a synergy of two great passions: religious studies and the outdoors. Carla Coon's professional experience includes working as Editor of LifeWork’s Magazine for NYSRTLC, where she also contributed a monthly column. Carla wrote in-depth articles for the National Catholic Register, and was published in the New Oxford Review, Catholic Faith & Family, the Press & Sun-Bulletin and more. In other positions, she was a Program Coordinator for a non-profit groups and Director of Religious Education at a large parish. Once a professional ballroom dance instructor, Carla enjoys music and dance, roaming art museums, and travel with her husband. Her current work involves coordinating the establishment of family support groups in Upstate NY.
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