By Keith Fisher
I ran away from home last week. Pressures and interruptions became overwhelming, so I packed up and hit the road. No, I didn’t hop a freight train, or put my thumb out on a freeway onramp. I made up my mind that I would finish my edits, or die trying. I hooked up the trailer, found a quiet place, and spent the weekend plowing through the final chapters.
Did you ever see the Twilight Zone episode where a man wishes to be the only man in the world, just to avoid interruptions, to get caught up with work, and he gets his wish? My weekend wasn’t like that. In the show, the man spends about twenty minutes, gets all caught up, then gets so bored he goes out of his mind. It took me twenty-five minutes just to get organized.
Partway into my task, I noticed something. I was alone. I looked around at nature and back to my manuscript. Something happened to me. Without the hustle and bustle of dealing with everyday tasks, I found myself transported. I was living my story again. My characters visited me and brought back the clear picture of where we were headed in the book. The red ink marks on the papers returned to what they were. The marks were only a guide, not some daunting and overwhelming testament of my lack of writing abilities.
I was writing again. My soul became connected to my story and I sailed through the pages correcting was’s, putting commas in where needed, taking them out where they were not. Most importantly, the side notes, written in red ink, became only a minor disturbance, because I knew what I had written, and why I wrote it in the first place. I added words for clarification and fixed those things that confused the reader. I was on fire.
After what seemed like a short moment, I discovered my back was sore from sitting too long, and there was a gnawing hunger in my stomach. I stood up and found that working at a booth style dinette in my camp trailer, may not have been the best choice for me. Being overweight, the table is too close to my mid-section. I grabbed a piece of lunchmeat, slapped it on some bread and returned to my torture chamber.
Being engrossed in the work has its own rewards. I never noticed my aches and sore muscles until I took a break. Then I found I was caught up in my story, solving story problems while cooking, plotting and planning while I stretched my legs outside.
After three days of living like a full time writer, I returned home. I was a new man. The petty problems I’d ditched, were still there, but my family was glad to see me back. Life hasn’t changed because I ran away. It’s still just as pressing. I’m not more capable of handling stress. I’m not a better writer, but in the time I went away, I re-discovered why I became a writer. My characters reminded me.
Of all the lessons I learned from my "Personal Writer’s Retreat" the one most valuable to me is, never let everyday responsibilities detract from your writing. I must return to the well, if only for a moment, in order to remember the pure joy of writing from my soul. To rediscover why I became a writer, to listen to my characters, because they know . . . they know, why I became a writer. After writing that statement I guess my retreat really was like the Twilight Zone episode. Maybe I did go a little crazy. But then again, maybe I always was, or maybe . . . I’m a writer.
Good luck in your writing—see you next week.