Wednesday, December 20, 2017


If you look at the varied websites I bookmark on my computer, they provide a pretty accurate snapshot of my scattershot brain. There are oodles of craft project sites, which I mine for ideas for our church playgroup, Sunday School, etc. Mind you, this does not mean I master ANY of these creations. Our Halloween playgroup activity was making origami bats. Even after studying the online directions, I folded and unfolded and refolded, producing nothing remotely resembling a bat—or anything else. Writers’ sites also abound, (such as “Who Pays Writers?” and honestly, gang, it is a shame how little lots of outlets pay) and I can disappear down the internet rabbit hole for hours just comparing submission guidelines for various publications.

MacDowell Cottage in Winter--how cozy is that?

But of all the writer resources, the most daydreamed about are retreat centers, beautiful spots to escape with your manuscript and work away in blissful quiet: Santa Fe, Aspen, the Berkshires, picturesque places in Europe, etc. Artists of all kinds (painters, musicians) spend time in these fabulous (and inspirational) locales and I wish I could too. A very talented composer of my acquaintance travels quite regularly to different lovely retreat centers around the world, and always returns with significant work completed. She posts pictures of the grand pianos in the cozy studios nestled in the mountains, or by the sea, and it all looks idyllic.

But I wonder—even if I COULD go to Yaddo or the MacDowell Colony, just how productive would I really be? I fear I would be paralyzed by the clock ticking the hours away, ever closer to the time I’d have to vacate the premises. Plus, as I don’t exactly enjoy my own company, why do I think spending days all alone would be a delight for me? So there I’d be, heading home with only blank pages and boredom to show for my time away.

I seem to be most creative and successful with plenty of noisy humans close by. At the house, there’s always plenty of hubbub provided by the resident one and three year olds. This afternoon, Rose and I are typing away on our laptops in Starbucks, surrounded by several loud conversations and endless recorded Christmas music. I am getting quite a bit done. Rose too seems to be producing work across the table from me, “Santa Baby” blaring from the speakers notwithstanding.

I will continue to fantasize about writing my blockbuster novel in a coastal Maine solo hideaway, but deep down I know that I will probably never “retreat” more than a few miles from civilization. Clearly, I do better NOT far from the madding crowd. And I bet I’m not the only one.

Hmmm, now that I think about it, our fam could bring in some extra income by opening our abode to retreatants! I invite you to bring your unfinished projects over, and get to work. I’ll clear off the dining room table for you! Scads of company and distractions at the Seyfried Retreat Center, guaranteed!