When I started the challenge I told myself I didn’t want to “cheat” and use adjectives for any of the letters, so nothing like “jolly revisions” or “jubilant beta readers” to fill a post. (Note, not sure this is actually cheating but it was a standard I wanted to follow.) J proved a challenge, however. For awhile I was going to write about the time I made freezer jam, but even I could not figure out a way to tie it into my writing.
I was inspired by a post from Pen in Her Hand about “El Cheapo” writing retreats – writing retreats you can do at home. This is an excellent idea and I can’t wait to try it. The post reminded me of a trip – ahem, I mean a journey – I took with a friend a year and a half ago. My friend was working on a book for one of her courses and I was blasting through the first draft of a novel.
We piled into the car and drove up the North Shore of Minnesota, one of my favorite places in the world. Lake Superior stretches to the horizon on your right as you drive through birch forests and pines groves dotting ancient mountains. It was the off season and we stayed at a tiny resort right on the water.
The first few hours were odd, complete with a grunting woodsman who had the master keys to all the cabins (including ours) and an old woman in a red coat who was peering in the window of our cabin as we pulled up “Are we going to get murdered?” we asked ourselves. (We did not, as I am most definitely not posting this from the ghost realm.)
Instead, we settled into an easy rhythm. I wrote in the cabin during the morning while my friend wrote at the lodge. We came together for long lunches in the nearby town of Grand Marais and then went for a walk. Then back to our writing for the rest of the afternoon, capping off the day with chats over wine, cheese and other goodies.
It was rejuvenating. I finished the rough draft of my novel during those few days. I stayed at my keyboard and with the story because I knew my friend was doing the same. (Also because there was a bottle of wine waiting for us at the end of the day.) It was creatively draining in other ways – it’s not something to do all the time – but this journey proved instrumental in giving me the final push to finish an important stage of the manuscript. The wine (and especially the friendship) was nice, too.