Friday, December 12, 2014

Space to Breathe

By Kim

This is the photo I will remember most from my recent weekend in Granbury. It’s the first one I took, a rather dull snapshot overlooking a porch and a nondescript backyard. The sky is gray, the trees mostly stripped of their leaves; even the red cushions on the chair are muted to rust.

This image perfectly symbolizes my mood since returning home after the enchantment of the UnConference a month ago. There are hints of color in the grass, as there are in my life, but my mind is heavy with rain I can’t quite release. Salem changed me irrevocably, yet I have not yet learned to fully reconcile the woman I've become with the woman those at home have come to expect me to be.

It was no accident that I immediately chose this spot in the retreat house as my writing cave, that this view, such as it was on that gloomy December day, spoke to me. From this spot I watched the clouds drift away, saw Joan and Pamela cross the lawn and Julie sit on the swing partly visible in the lower right corner.

I think everyone sensed I craved solitude and they left me alone in my little nook, laptop open on my lap, earplugs stuffed into my ears, my gaze drifting to the trees in the distance in the rare moments the words did not flow.

Sometimes they came so fast my fingers struggled to keep up, and at the end of three days I discovered I had written an astounding (for me) 7200 words.

I’m not a slow writer, I realized. I simply needed space to breathe.  

What abut you? Do you have a writing cave? Do you find you need to escape your regular life in order to be your most productive?


  1. I think I've been wondering what will release that flow again. 'Space' is probably not my lacking. Unless it's giving myself the space to run free. I think I've stilted myself. I want to apply every damn thing I've learned on every damn sentence. And that's no way to draft.

    In spite of that stutter stop-and-start, some good things are coming of my (perhaps overly) cautious approach. For example, Wednesday I started a new POV for a big scene (the fact that I'm on the epic climax of this ms isn't helping), and overnight I knew it was all rubbish. I was *telling* and it lacked the kind of conflict that would keep pages turning. Hell, it was even boring me. Rewrote it yesterday, introducing a new character, and *showing* my POV character's conflict through their rivalry. My gut tells me it was the right thing to do. Should I have plowed on, and left that kind of work to re-revision? Not sure, but I think not. It's going to have an effect on the whole series of scenes that make up the conflict. So maybe this one's just going to be a slow slog to the end.

    I'm very happy that it's flowing for you! Thanks for your honesty here. Looking forward to reading the new version, Kim!

    1. I think a lot of us who were in Salem are going through something similar. We had such a life-altering experience and practically drowned in all the creative energy. Then we leave there and it's like someone pulled the plug on the ocean and it all drained away. Not only that, but no one who wasn't there will fully understand the magic of all it. I've tried to explain and failed miserably.

      I keep waiting to miss everyone less, particularly my ModSquad family, and it's not happening.

      It makes perfect sense why you'd want to prefect the thing you are working on first. You are learning to apply what you know. If you can train yourself now, you can follow through on the new strategy the rest of the way through. It could be you will have less editing to do later that way.

      Oh, and it WAS flowing. Then I came home and ran into that brick wall called Christmas.


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