A Mini Writing Retreat


Never make plans. They never work out. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I planned a mini-retreat for this week. Take some time for myself to get my head on straight and my spirit centered before the kids are home for the summer. I planned for the part of the week after Memorial Day since there was only one appointment on my calendar and no school obligations after everyone went back to school and work after the Memorial Day holiday. Our house has been pretty clutter-free for the past couple of weeks, so I enjoy being there again. I mentioned to my husband last week while I was sitting in my corner office that I didn’t want to leave the house. I really liked being there. But let’s be real, if I stay home to write, I’d end up watching Supernatural or The Walking Dead reruns on Netflix. I have the rest of the month for that.

I started thinking about what I wanted to do this week and separately what I wanted to accomplish. I’d attend Mass on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ve been missing the daily masses both by not attending and also missing them deeply. I’d start my day with G-d, leaving the house at 8:30 and planning to return by 3 when the kids came home from school. It sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it?

Well…my son is having trouble with his car and he’s starting a new job on Thursday morning up in Lake George, a two hour round trip commute. He also has his fire department drill on Tuesday night and his volunteer ambulance service overnight on Wednesday needing a pick up at 6am on Thursday morning. His relationship with his girlfriend isn’t at the place where he could borrow her car, and if I were her parents I’d throw a fit if one of them even suggested it. My car will be in the capital on Thursday. Because I already had a therapy appointment scheduled, I also scheduled a tour of the Schuyler Mansion (more on that below).

I have a rainy day plan to rent and watch The Boondock Saints while the kids are still in school, but this is not a rainy day week.

I began by arriving at church this morning to find a funeral in progress. Normally if I’m early enough I’d attend. Most people like to have the community members supporting the family, but I got the feeling that I should leave so I did.

After church I was going to grab two burritos at McDonald’s on my way somewhere else, perhaps the library, but with no church I didn’t want to sit at McDonald’s. That wouldn’t have fed my creative hunger.

So I write this at Jimmy’s Egg, a new place nearby that is a breakfast/lunch place open only from 6 until 2. Today I met the co-owner, the husband. At our last visit, I met the wife/co-owner and talked to her about my Red Hats group. We’ll be coming here in August. The furniture is a light wood, sage green cushions and being that those are my colors it makes me feel at home for getting some writing done. Well, not home, but more like my own study?

As you can see, it spurred some. Also, despite being in a busy shopping center, all I can see from my seat are trees and the odd passing car, so it’s not a stressful place for eating or too distracting for my concentration. Perhaps I’ll do a proper review on Google at another time, but for now, I’m happy I picked this place. It only cost a tip more than Starbucks would have cost, and the waitress was great – talkative, but not enough to be too talkative. So far, I’ve always enjoyed my visits here. [Side note: The waitress recognized me from waiting on me with my family ten years ago at another restaurant that we were regulars at.]

In the plans for this retreat, I was trying to include several aspects of my writing. I realize that for most people retreats are typically spiritual, but for me, they always, always incorporate my writing. I’m still looking for that elusive word to describe whatever it is that this is. I made a list of some of what I wanted to include: spiritual, travel, fandom, food, photos, bloodwork.

Bloodwork? Yes, bloodwork. I need to have it done before my doctor’s appointment in two weeks. Might as well do it this week. So I guess I could call that health. Cover health and spirit. And creativity.

I also forgot my sketchbook today.

On the positive side, I will not be deterred. For everything else, look for a post tomorrow to show how I’m managing to organize my writing essentials and how I carry them. I also found a notebook while I was cleaning so beginning soon, I will transcribe my women saints retreat notes from last year and I also found a new quotation to use later this week.

It also seems as though this week is going to be a history adventure. Living so close to the capital and being slightly obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda et al’s soundtrack to Hamilton, I thought I would do some Hamiltonian research into the capital region for an upcoming post or two. That led me to the Schuyler Mansion, the home of A dot Ham’s father-in-law. While checking out their hours and directions, I discovered that they have a special tour related to Alexander Hamilton. It is only given at 2pm on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I signed up immediately.

I also just discovered that the traveling Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall will be nearby also. We went to it when it was in Cohoes, and it was so much more moving than I would have imagined. I’d like to go on Friday.

The power just went out. I’ve never been in a place that went from 60 to 0 so fast into silence. And then it was back. I guess there are still surprises in store for this week after all. It didn’t take long for the chattering to get back to the normal level.

I do have to admit I was pretty pleased with myself for getting out of the door and to church on time. That is a good sign for the rest of the retreat. I’d like this post to hold me accountable so I’ll share my tentative plans with you.

This afternoon: Library or back home to proofread, post and do some research for one or two writing projects.

Tomorrow: Mass, breakfast at Starbucks, probably no lunch. Pop into the nearest AAA and pick up the new New York tour book. This is my annual ritual: replace my NY book when the new ones come out in the spring, and look to see if there are any new maps. Then begin outlines for the two books I’d like to start that have also been a long time coming. I will also set my editorial calendar for the summer.

Thursday: Very early day with bloodwork, therapy, comic store, quick (and cheap) lunch, Schuyler Mansion. I must remember my sketchbook and my camera.

Friday: Mickey D’s for breakfast, bring my own drink, Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall. I’ll use the AAA tour book to find another side trip to make in the area or on the way home.

What is this post then?

I”m not sure. I enjoy reading about others’ writing processes, so I like to share mine here as well. It’s also a good way to remain accountable. Not a serious checklist, but a guideline along with my other WIPs to get my pen in gear.

Wish me luck.

“The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can.”
– Sydney Smith

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