Anatomy of a Writing Weekend

Once a year, this writer goes away to write. Being away from distractions, with the exception of social media, which I am learning you can never completely be away from, is supposed to be conducive to serious writing. It is also a chance to sleep a little later, eat food different from what my husband eats and be the master of my own schedule for a few days!

In the past, I’ve gone to Ogunquit, Maine and on one trip ended up truly snowbound. The hotel even brought food to me as they didn’t want guests going out in the storm!

I’ve gone to the Comfort Inn at North Conway, New Hampshire which, may I just say, has the MOST comfortable beds I have ever been privileged to sleep in.

This year, in a panic about finding a hotel room that didn’t cost a bloody fortune on the one weekend in September I had free, I ended up at a Holiday Inn Express in Keene, NH- forty-five minutes from home! Cheap, easy to get to and if hubby wants to come down for dinner, he’s welcome. But he must go home!

Journaling seems a good way to share my writing weekend with friends, so here we go.

Thursday- Chaplain work today but it was a good day with the anticipation of heading off to my writing weekend consuming the cells in my limbic system. I stopped at Madam Sherri’s Forest to take photos of The Prophecy and The Runes of Evalon at the ruins. This is my favorite local haunt to channel Uisneach energy. I lucked out that no one was traipsing around the ruins so I wouldn’t be disturbed or disturb anyone by my ‘photo shoot.’ Late afternoon sun created some cool effects on the ferns and trees and a haunting low light on the arches and stairway of the ruins, so I got some good shots.

It’s only about fifteen miles from the forest to Keene, so I was checked in by 5pm. My heart sunk to discover the hotel under major renovation which usually means lots of noise. And breakfast will be in rooms set up in a couple of guest rooms. Wrinkle of nose here. The room, however, is perfect! Nice desk and chair, fridge, coffeepot and microwave. And a king size bed- all to myself! Sleep is hard to come by in my everyday life, so the opportunity to spread out in a huge bed and sleep as much as I want (or can) is a decadent bit of self-care.

Domino’s was kind enough to bring supper so I didn’t have to cook or even go out. What’s left of a Cali-chicken-bacon-ranch pizza will be lunch for the next couple of days. 

Evening entertainment this weekend is going to be watching Carnival Row on my Kindle. I’ve been holding off watching, just for this occasion.

Is anyone besides me excited about this weekend so far? Probably only other writers. Not much excitement I suppose.

Friday- Ten hours of sleep! I feel like a new woman. After spending far more time posting on social media than I intended, I’m writing. A handful of resource books, my style sheet and printed copies of three chapter summaries (my goal for this weekend) sit beside me and the scene is unfolding well.

I am sure you’ve heard writers talk about their characters being present. It’s a real thing. Silas has been leaning on my shoulder this morning, directing things, as it were. While I honestly believe in the power of character energy being present, Silas’ is the most powerful. When he’s in the room, I get cold chills and then a warm peace that saturates my being and almost takes me out of myself.

1:30pm-. Exercise is good for writers, but if I’m honest, it’s not my strong suite. However, I do love to walk and hike and a little dandering around the hotel is another bit of self-care I can manage. I can’t get over how beautiful this day is! Nearly cloudless blue sky and temps in the mid to upper 70’s! Perfecto! Too bad I’m stuck inside. It’s not that I couldn’t write outside, it’s just that then I would be distracted by the beauty of the day and not much writing would get done. Unless, I started writing poetry or something. No, better off to enjoy a brief walk and get inside and back to work.

5pm- Quitting time. Finished one chapter and completed a whole other chapter. Time for Mexican food, a margarita (probably in reverse order) and Carnival Row. Good vibes from this day.

Saturday- I woke wondering if Briana would really respond the way she did yesterday. I need to re-read and consider her response. And, yes, one sentence needed to be tweaked to make her more sincere.

2 pm-This has been a day of hunkering down. Back screaming and begging for a walk, so I took my back around the hotel. Clear, hot day again. Was it a great idea to pick September for writing retreat? Hmm…

6pm-Three chapters done and time for some pad thai at Thai Garden. So, what does a writer do when they’re dining alone? Write of course! I keep a little journal that I write names, words, ideas for interesting sentences. Rayne Hall, a writer and writing coach I like offers mini lessons. I chose to practice one at the restaurant. In Writing Vivid Settings, she suggests looking around the setting I’m in and describe the light in that place. So I did that.

Natural late afternoon light from the street competed with recessed fake light from recessed ceiling lights and fan shaped sconces.

Squares of light from the storefront window created stepping stones to the dark, rear section of the restaurant.

I did the same thing with sound.

Her fast, exotic words with long vowels made on the back of the tongue, vied with music of a huqin that evoked temples draped in vines and ladies with silk fans.

Ice chinked in metal pitchers as it was poured into glasses.

Loud guffaws erupted from a fat man in a red polo shirt.

The frantic, bleet, bleet, bleet of a police cruiser wrecked the peaceful Asian ambience.

Ding! I was reminded of the bell sitting on the counter at the post office.

My husband thinks its nuts that I enjoy these exercises, but in the same way a pianist has to play scales to warm up or improve their skill, a writer needs to constantly learn how to use words for better and better scenes or poetry, or whatever genre they write in. Writer’s chops.

Sunday- All good things must surely end and today I returned home to the muggle kinds of things that belong to my non-writing world. There are gardens to tend, floors to wash and meals to be prepared. Fog made the transition from that world to this, gentler, but even that bit of reprieve dissipated on the last quarter mile to reveal of a bright, sunny day with vivid yellows and oranges of trees that were rapidly changing and announcing the fact that Mabon would be upon us soon.

My husband must have felt the change as well. I arrived home to pumpkins and mums gracing our doorstep. Maybe my muggles world isn’t so mundane after all.

About The Author

For Heidi Hanley, reading and writing are like breathing. On her 5oth birthday, she got serious about turning her passion for writing into a goal to publish. The result is The Prophecy, Book One of the Kingdom of Uisneach series. The Runes of Evalon, the second book in the series, is due out in April. Heidi lives in New Hampshire beside the Connecticut River with her husband and a Scottish Terrier. She has enjoyed a career as a Registered Nurse, Interfaith minister and is currently serving as a Hospice chaplain. When not working, you will find her reading, sneaking away to Maine, or and in the garden with the birds and faeries.

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