Friday, October 30, 2009

Weekend Words

My husband and I don’t argue much. I always assumed the reason for this was because I don’t spend a lot of time at home. Now that I’m retired from full-time teaching, I’m finding lots of other things to do and places to go. We have rules, of course. I write these trips down on the calendar so he knows where I’m going and when I’m coming back. I leave my cell phone on in case he decides I need to be contacted. And I always come back when I say I will, or call if there’s a delay. Sometimes I wonder if I would be so tolerant if he went away as often as I do.

Last Friday, for the second weekend in a row, I packed a suitcase and left town. This time I went to the lovely town of Fremont, Michigan, home of the Gerber Baby Food Company. The Gerber Guest House is a wonderful bed and breakfast place. It was perfect for our group – since we booked all but one of the seven rooms, we had the run of the entire house – two large dining rooms, two sitting rooms, an enclosed porch, and a patio overlooking a beautiful garden. Check out their website at

One of my writers’ groups booked the Gerber House for the entire three days. The idea was to spend the time clearing our minds of the outside world and devoting our time to our craft. My agenda was a bit different this time. I have a story well on its way to completion, but since a lot of it was written in 200 word chunks (hastily scribbled between classes, before going to work, or before going to bed), I needed to arrange these chunks into the framework of the manuscript. That turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected. I went, hoping to organize all my scenes into a coherent whole, and maybe add some meat to some of the important parts. Instead, I caught up on blog entries, correspondence, and playing Boggle Bash (hey, at least I was working with words!)

Remembering my peaceful walk from last week, I joined two of my writing friends when they decided to walk through town and visit the quilt shop. If the fresh air could calm me down in West Olive, maybe it could work in Fremont. I had a great time rummaging through the bolts of beautiful fabric, the lovely patterns, and admiring the intricate quilts on display. I splurged on a few yards of fabric and walked back to the Guest House ready to write.

But the words didn’t come.

Sunday afternoon, I got back home. The kids were there, doing laundry. A nice hot dinner was simmering. I hugged my family, ate dinner, unpacked, and caught up on a few chores. And then I sat down at my keyboard. And I wrote. Paragraphs and pages. A new scene, a new angle. It was amazing.

So why couldn’t I write during my writing get-away? Who knows? I’ve written a lot during past retreats. Maybe I just needed the inspiration of my lovely, tolerant family. Or maybe the weekend was a chance to step away from them and really appreciate them when I got back. Whatever the case, the muse seems to be alive and well again.

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