Sometime last fall I got the idea that I could help manage my winter blues thing by heading south for awhile. And also by eating a lot of cupcakes. To that end I planned a St. George getaway in February.
And ate a lot of cupcakes.
I've been down here for a little over two weeks--longer, actually, than I'd thought I be. That last time I stayed alone for a spell in S.G. was over ten years ago while I was revising drafts of CHARLOTTE'S ROSE. (I can't believe that book--the book I thought would alter the course of my career--is so old now.) I remember leaving town then, thinking "I can't stay alone this long ever again, because I get weird. I eat big steaks by myself at The Outback Restaurant and don't care if I drool."
You know. That sort of thing.
This time, though, was different. Not saying I haven't gotten a little strange. But it's helped to have the dogs and (yes) one of the cats here to keep me company. They stop me from getting too lost in my own head. And while I didn't exercise or read or even write as much as I thought I would (although I certainly did keep up on the pie-eating front), I was productive. Among other things I . . .
1. Read the lovely PRINCE OF THE CLOUDS, given to me by the lovely John Merritt.
2. Read an awesomely wonderful and strange collection of short stories by Etgar Keret, loaned to me by the fab Jake Parkinson--also dipped into an ARC called CARRY ON, WARRIOR that Amazing Anne left in my TKE box and into Susan Howe's new collection of poems called SALT.
3. Read a manuscript by the talented Ann Dee Ellis.
4. Read a disappointing mystery by Alan Bradley.
5. Read the local newspaper, which is always a pleasure.
6. Ran nearly every day.
7. Took long, satisfying walks and heard frogs.
8. Swam, trying hard not to think about all the stuff that ends up in public pools.
9. Urged my agent to send a manuscript off to an editor I used to work with.
10. Contacted one of my favorite illustrators about a proposed project (he turned me down but it was nice to be in touch).
11. Wrote some scenes.
12. Forced myself to make my outline more coherent.
13. In fact, finished (mostly) that outline.
14. Wrote a synopsis so I could send out a partial on the book.
15. But decided, instead, to just finish the book and make it as good as I can.
16. Decided to stop being afraid of failing.
17. Good luck with that one!
18. But still.
19. Blogged every day. Even if I had to do it in the MacDo's parking lot.
20. Watched "The Rockford Files" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"--two of the best series ever.
One of the most useful things that happened here was this--I realized I really and truly can't write all day long. When I was a young mom/writer/dreamer, I used to fantasize about getting huge chunks of time where I could do nothing but write for hours and hours and hours on end like Alexander Solschenizyn in the Vermont woods.
But as it turns out I hit a real point of diminishing returns after four hours. The good news is that I can make four hours happen in my real life. I don't have to hole up in St. George. Or the Vermont woods.
Thanks for listening.