2019 book of the year so far. A fantastic look at not only Ted Geisel's life but his evolution as a writer and artist, his personal evolution (including a no-holds-barred look at the racist stereotyping in his early works and how he came to recognize and respond to it), the evolution of his philosophy of reading and education, and his creative process (Did you know it took a year to write "The Cat in the Hat"?). Spoiler alert: he dies in the end, and I'll own up to the fact that I got teary eyed when he did.
Days: 6 with the first one really spent figuring out how I was going to organize myself and write during this retreat (harder than it sounds), and 5 focused on serious writing and revision
New words written: 25,000+
Words reviewed and revised: 83,000+ (including reviews of the new 25K every morning the day after each batch was written)
Conundrums, obstacles, and wrinkles overcome: numerous
Actual, true “Holy crap, that makes sense/I figured it out/that’s what needs to happen!” epiphanies: at least 5-6 really big ones
Daily record: 6,700+ words
Black bear cubs seen: 1, about 40 feet away
Built-in teasers, clues, plot points, bits of text, and future callbacks for the rest of the quartet: Loads
Maps drawn: 2 because if you don’t have the map, you have no idea how long it will take to get somewhere and you get into some serious inconsistencies (wait...did I say they headed north to get there before? Rewrite rewrite rewrite)
Anticipated words still be written in this book: 55,000 to 60,000 based on the outline (holy crap...when will there be time?!)
Number of times I’ve been grateful to Jennifer Arlinsky Watson for suggesting that I investigate a writing retreat and being willing to have me gone for a full week: Innumerable
Hours until I hit the road home: 1.5
The number of books I absolutely will finish writing this year: 1
The number of books I’ll get published: Not a clue but it’s going to be fun trying
Yesterday, for another change of venue, I drove to the lovely town of Shelburne Falls with one of the other writers. While there, I enjoyed a great walk on a spectacular day, crossed the historic “Bridge of Flowers” twice, stopped into the delightful Boswell’s Books (sadly, Boswell was off napping somewhere and not accepting the adoration to which I am sure he is rightfully due), and got some some excellent writing and map making done while sipping iced tea at Mocha Maya’s.
Writing retreat update: 6,700 new words today plus revisions to yesterday’s work. I almost wish my iPad made that cool “ding swish” sound you can only get from a real typewriter’s carriage return. If I get into a groove tomorrow (final day), I might...might...hit my stretch goal of 30,000 new words this week.
Writing Retreat Day #4. Have sought new environs and fresh inspiration for writing today. After a drive from Ashfield to Montague, I'm now happily encamped at the Lady Killigrew Cafe and amazing The Book Mill used book store alongside a waterfall on the Sawmill River. Now I just need to get this thing finished, published, and on the best seller list so someone will pay me to do this full time. Of course, there it's not all rainbows and unicorn poop. The drawback to sitting in the shade while writing outside...I’m getting dive bombed by kamikaze ants falling out of the tree above. Thankfully, none have done the Nestea Plunge into my iced tea yet. #toughlifeofawriterWellspring House
Ashfield update: Something you don't hear every day - "Hey guys, be careful walking around your house. There's a mother and two baby bears back there in the woods." - the neighbor next door to Wellspring House.
Minutes later, I see a black bear cub run behind the wood pile where my car is parked.
Well into the second full day of my writing retreat at Wellspring House in Ashfield, MA, the town where everyone knows your name (if you live here) and cell phones don’t work. Every 1000 words or so, I change venues. Thus far have enjoyed writing in my room, the funky living room, outdoors, at the local cafe, at the lakeside park across the street, and now at the delightful little library.