Is there anything more important to a writer than pure, unadulterated time? Finishing up two weeks in the beauteous woods of New Hampshire with the marvelous Porch Sisters, a group of dedicated writers I respect and admire and enjoy. What else does a retreat have to offer? Well, in this case, two weeks of no make-up, no meetings, no TV (except the Olympics opening ceremonies, and that was just bizarre), no traffic noise, no phone calls to speak of, unless you count the appliance company that called to see if the ice-maker was working. Plenty of mountains, pine scented air, wildflowers, Slippery Rock swimming hole, brilliant stars, and the serenade of the hermit thrush every night.
No meals out, just dinners on the deck overlooking the Kinsman ridge, all cooked by writers who know what the hell they are doing in the kitchen. And some wine and homemade bourbon pie, in case you imagine we are in a convent of self-denial.
Thus far I have maintained a daily practice of 750 words (750words.com–I really recommend it), drafted 6 new poems, revised 5, made notes for lots more, read many books of poetry and some amazing fiction too, and started this blog.
Only 6 new poems, you might ask? For me, poems grow like fat watermelons in the Florida sand. Slow, then fast, then the stage where nothing seems right. That takes the longest. One line can torture for days. Considering that, it’s a miracle I hammered out as much as I did. Art takes patience, as many mentors have told me.
How long does it take you to start and finish a poem? A story? And the big question I’ll be working on all the school year: Where do we get the time when NOT on retreat?