Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Retreat




A few weeks ago I asked the Universe (alright, Facebook) for a place to go on a writing retreat. "Universe," I says, says I, "I want to go on a personal writing retreat, somewhere beautiful, somewhere peaceful, somewhere cheap---I have no extra funds for this, Universe---preferably with a hot tub." And, what can I tell you, but the Universe provided. 

My friend Jenny, the maven behind Dolce Mia bath products, offered me her beautiful home for this past weekend. She and her brood were going to visit her oldest offspring at college and she could use a housesitter to keep the bunny and kitty company. Truth be told, she has a renter on the property in another building, who could handle it, so I think she was just sweet to let me stay there. And I fell in love with the bunny, Truman. He was like chocolate smoke velvet. And very quiet. Unlike the cat, Buttons, who was the whiniest cat I've ever met. But a sweet character, nonetheless.

I was supposed to go on Thursday after dropping Toby at his D&D game, which my friend Elizabeth kindly hosted so that I could get out of the house faster, but I had a really bad cold and ended up sick in bed until Friday night. Saturday morning I filled in at the synagogue leading music at a bat mitzvah because our cantor's wife just had a baby, but then I shot home, repacked, and headed to Jenny's place, laden with food, laptop, jammies, notebooks, cell phone charger, and my favorite tea.

There is something uncanny about being out of your normal environment to inspire productivity. Almost as soon as my freezer bag was unpacked into her freezer, I set up my laptop and Go! was on my way.

I almost forgot to tell you, I'm writing a book. If you've been following this blog (yes, you 18 official followers and you 5,972 lurkers who don't want to be pinned down or give me the pleasure of knowing you're really there and I can count on you *sniff*) you've read some of it. It's going to be my Ben story. Parenting and living and surviving the challenges we've faced. Overcoming it all too. Triumphing. It has a happy ending, as you know, since Ben is doing so incredibly well. And the therapist wasn't dead after all. Or even in bed the whole time.

I'm doing it on my own, though I've been reading a great book by Guy Kawasaki called APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) and another one called Your Big Beautiful Book Plan by Danielle LaPorte and Linda Sivertsen. The former is focused on self-publishing, the latter on getting a 6-figure book deal. That'd be nice. (No, really!) I'm also part of the APE group on Google+ which feels supportive, and hopefully helpful. I'm planning to join my local writer's club, Redwood Writers Club, for more connections, support, and advice. And then last night I took the plunge and joined WNFIN (Write NonFiction In November), sort of the nonfiction antidote to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I've got me some PLANS!

Anyways, back at Jenny's for those couple days I ultimately had I got into the zone and wrote for hours. I interspersed it with reading for hours, both of the above books. There's SO much to learn and so much to figure out about how I want to proceed with this process. But, luckily, so far I'm not getting too intimidated. I was really productive on this retreat and completed my introduction and began the first chapter.

And then Mark came over to make me dinner. His plan was to just cook, feed, and then curl up with a book while I kept writing. But I wanted his input, his ear. I wanted his memories. So for the rest of Sunday night I read aloud to him the pieces I'd written. (Read and cried, because I can't seem to get through these stories and memories without a lot of tears. And that's just fine, I'm coming off a long spell of holding it all together. I need to fall apart a bit. When my own words open me up, I'm okay with that.) As I sat at the computer, every so often I'd check in..."Hey, do you remember what that orthopedic surgeon said about Ben's first scoli x-ray?" and "Yeah, that's what I remember, too," or "Oh, thanks! I forgot he said that!" I am so grateful that I don't have to rely on just my memory to do this!

This is going to be the WHOLE story. From the beginning of Ben's brain surgeries. I wasn't blogging then, just sending out mass emails about his status. It hadn't become a thing, blogging, quite yet. But I've gone back and repeated the story a lot of times, and believe me...I remember a LOT of details. That kind of experience doesn't fade much. So, you'll be able to see a lot more about how we weathered that first storm in the book.

I need your help in a few ways:
  1. Title? Any ideas?
  2. Similar books that I should check out? I would say memoirs like Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. Others?
  3. Audience? Tell me who you are so that I can get a better feel for who wants to read these stories.
  4. Readers? If you're interested in reading early versions and giving me feedback I would love to know and put you on my list! (Crowdsourcing...Guy Kawasaki's really into that. And I think it's a great idea.)

I got 6500+ words down this first writing weekend. With November fast approaching and WNFIN starting, I should get even more done. Wouldn't it be amazing to have a book written in the next few months?

5 comments:

Barbara H said...

Congratulations on the launch, and may you have the stamina to carry it through. Great that Mark stayed and joined in the process. wonderful, B

Lorenzo Valensi said...

As a lurker, I love dropping in every now and then... but, I think, I personally may be more interested in your photo vision than your words. How about a book of your wonderful photography?
WML

Barbara H said...

Lorenzo, good idea! AND you should see her Mandala painting.. . Awesome.

Between life's doings said...

This is so beautiful Susie. I want to be in on reading the book/what you have when you are sending out to readers.

Barbara H said...

Between life's doings. I love that title.
B