Here I am! Back from my very own Cabin in the Woods (see what I did there? A little Wheedon call out)! Or as we call it here in Australia: the bush.
We probably do have what can be referred to as woods somewhere, but mostly what we have are bushlands.
I had an absolutely MARVELOUS time! Honestly. A long-overdue reunion with very good friends; an eight-sided cabin that had everything I needed, including a kitchen, table to eat/write at, bed, couch to lounge/read/write on, bedroom, bathroom, compost loo and a wrap-around balcony. Plus endless views of bushlands and all their wild and furry residents.
And, an ancient girl dog named Jack.
And… wow, to quote The Castle – you can feel the serenity – waking, walking and living in such an incredibly unspoiled piece of nature brought my body and mind into balance so quickly and completely.
Of course, the first couple of days of my writing retreat I did very little writing. Much of it was about decompressing, catching up on sleep (always needed by AI types), and the aforementioned re-balancing. This wasn’t just a writing retreat – it was also a break for me to relax and rejuvenate my health a little, far-far-awayyyy.
So there was much napping, although never at sunrise. A cabin without curtains with a view to the east means waking up early. Which just felt natural and gentle. Probably because I was often in bed by 9:30pm.
There was much yoga-ing, meditation and chanting (or what I like to call heart singing). Lots of cups of tea and reading books. A few little sessions of note taking. Sleeping. Eating. Talking to my friends over evening meals.
To begin with, there was also lots of fear. And resistance to too much structure. Which reminded me of the deal I struck with myself when I first started blogging: just write. Don’t worry about how good it is or not, just write what needs to be written.
Some writers are perhaps more structured and disciplined. I don’t really know. But for me, the only way to write it is to inhabit it. And the contemplation of what I had to do – go back into some of my not so pleasant experiences – was scaring me even more than trying to write a bloody book plan.
Ha. My book plan is approximately two pages of hand written notes, some of which are drawings for diagrams I want to have designed.
Anyway… the first two days weren’t very productive but eventually I turned that around.
Some mornings I woke up and thinking it was much later than it was. Because even a lie in, some (non-related) reading and the making of food, it’d still be only 9:30am.
I also took some lovely walks, reacquainting myself with the land. My first was down to Snake Gully.
It’s funny how moving your body like that (cross the creek a few times, climb a few hills and over some rocks, then later up a waterfall) can help a person to wake up in the head. Being completely surrounded by nature with no man-made world sounds… there’s lessons to be learnt if you’ll only look and listen.
Which I did. Snake Gully had some things to tell me that I needed for my book. Yep, that’s another post coming soon, too.
I spent a lot of time moving from spot to spot for my writing work. Couch, table, bed. Repeat. It kind of all depended on the day and the subject matter.
There was always more yoga and chanting. One day the weather was so glorious, that there was yoga on the deck.
Eventually I hit my stride with my writing, finally realising that it didn’t matter the order in which order I wrote my book. The first chapter didn’t have to come out first! So I wrote whatever came to mind, for sorting out later.
On Thursday, I got a LOT done. My friends had both gone down the hill for another trip to Albury, so it was just me and Jack the dog, all alone atop the hill. Which is sometimes what you need as a writer: everyone else’s energy out of your immediate vicinity.
Friday morning – end of the trip growing nearer – I was unimpressed to wake up and realise I’d been having a dream about work. Gah!! I guess my sub-conscious was gearing up for the return home, ahead of schedule. Boo.
We had a lot of rain on the Friday; perfect stay-inside writer’s weather. First thing in the morning when I went outside there were some Ruby Roos (my childish name for kangaroos!) just down the hill…
And having felt like I’d done a HEAP the previous day, I slacked off and watched a movie on my laptop, while listening to the wind and the rain and drinking tea.
Making a sweet potato, bacon and veggie stir fry…
Cutting more wood…
And a little writing. But mostly I was waiting for the end of the day because I was going down the hill WOO HOO! My friend and I were going to one of the local pubs for some dinner and a bit of fun on the “town”.
Finally, it was going home day. Still almost a full day here on the hill. I did everything slowly: yoga, walking, wood chopping, cooking, eating, writing, and writing.
The book is a goodly way along the track, but far from finished yet. There’s more to finesse and probably a truckload of editing, and that’s before I let anyone else see it. Then there’ll be feedback from people I trust, more editing, designing and eventually a finished product.
So much excitement. And there’s more writing retreat-related posts to come. Quite a few, actually!
Other posts inspired by my retreat
- An ode to Snake Gully
- Writing a book is a topsy-turvy thing
- Life lessons from managing a fireplace
- Waterfalls sound like the Universe
- I’m off on a writing retreat!