There I am, me, my computer, a cup of coffee and the chipmunk. Ah…
My daughter and I are just back from two nights at Peldle Hill, a Quaker retreat near Philadelphia. Our room was reminiscent or my college dorm. In fact the buildings were about the same age. Pendle Hill, for all its rural flavor, actually backs up on a super highway, but you would never know it. The grounds are a wonderful combination of gardens and wild spots, with benches everywhere. We looked for fish and turtles in the pond, identified the bushes and trees. Talked to others, browsed the bookstore, and walked the labyrinth.
I went with the idea that I would be able to edit my manuscript better if I were away from home. I’ve been working on this collection of short stories for over 20 years. Some are published, some are not. I have pulled them together in a collection with the working title The Casebook of Emily Lawrence.
I don’t have a deadline in the sense that I have to return the manuscript by such and such a date, but I would like to get it back before the publisher forgets who I am. Seems like a good thing to do, to get away from home, to set a goal, and to go after it. Let someone else do the cooking.
The chipmunks were an unexpected bonus.
Because the setting was idyllic, the people friendly, the food exceptional, don’t get the idea that the work was any easier. It took the same amount of will power to come in off the trail and sit down and to write. I had to tell myself over and over that I would get to go out again when I finished this story. Many, but not all of the things I find distractions at home were missing. I couldn’t get up and watch TV but I could email. I didn’t have to do the dishes, but I could have kept my room neater.
I did have to keep reminding myself that I was there to work. It was OK to watch the chipmunk when he (or she) appeared, but I couldn’t be looking around for her (or him) when I was supposed to be writing.
When I closed up my computer for the last time, I realized I had done almost twice as much as I had planned, in less time. Since we had to be out of the room by 10 am, I packed up everything, locked it in the car and took one more stroll around the property.
I still have half the stories to rework. Maybe I will go back to finish it up. Maybe the chipmunk with be waiting for me.