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03 August 2009

My Writer's Retreat

Doreen could not fit in a post today so I offered to sub for her. My original thought was to write about the history of copyright, a subject that came up in the comments section of Tracy’s post last week. Wow, did I have delusions of intellectual grandeur. You can check out this website if you are interested in the subject. http://www.asmp.org/tutorials/brief-history-copyright.html. For those not inclined to click I hope to ask a copyright attorney to sub for me sometime and he/she can tell you all about it.

For the last ten days I have been on a fabulous writer’s retreat. Actually I’ve been house/dog sitting for friends. They live in the country, at the crest of a hill surrounded by woods. It’s quiet here. Really, really quiet. My only company has been two very self-sufficient dogs.

There is no cell phone service but thank heaven they do have hi-speed internet access.

It has been great for my writing, reading, and TV/movie addiction. To my surprise I easily lasted four days before I felt any inclination to leave. The day the cleaning lady came I left the house to her and went to town, about twenty minutes away. I worked at the local library, had lunch and dinner and checked out houses for sale (just for fun)

My friends are coming back tomorrow. So today I went out again to buy some welcome home flowers and stopped at the ice cream shop for a sundae. Ten days with only two visits to the outside world. Anyone who knows me would be amazed.

I know myself and I’m amazed! This house sitting experience has to rank as one of the eye-opening experiences of my life. I never thought I could last this long with so little social interaction.

Last night as I was trying to figure out what a noise was (very lightly ringing wind chimes) it occurred to me that the Internet is what made this hiatus possible. Email and Twitter have been the mainstay of my contact with the outside world.

Now I am fascinated by the concept that something that brings people closer also makes it possible to keep them at a distance.

Well over two hundred years ago people settled the town near here with no such contact. They relied on people passing through to tell them what was happening in the world. And the occasional letter for family news. This made me wonder how mail was delivered before there were post offices in every town. Check the Postal Museum site for more information on this: http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibits/2_exhibits.html.

Yes, it’s been eye opening for me. How interesting that at my age, with grown children and a retired husband, growth in self-awareness is still possible. I suspect that as long as society keeps changing, as long as new technology is being invented and as long as I am open to new possibilities there is more growth on the horizon. I can’t wait.

I post again next Monday and I will write about a much earlier mind expanding experience (which had nothing to do with drugs). A move that changed my life and will, hopefully, have more to do with research.

By the way, it never occurred to me to bring my camera or I would have included pictures of this corner of the world.

Tell us about your most recent eye-opening experience

9 Comments:

Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Loved hearing about your writer's retreat, Mary! I live in the country--twenty minutes from a major town, forty-five minutes from San Francisco. No cell service inside my house and no highspeed internet either. Usually I'm in San Francisco 3-4 days a week (sometimes more), but I have days where I stay home and write ten-twelve hours a day, with just my dog and cats for company. It's a great sort of mini-retreat. This summer I've taken to taking my laptop outside under the apple trees in the late afternoons.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

It sounds like heaven, Mary! Sometimes I long for such a retreat. Perhaps writers just have a high need for solitude.

I think you are right about the internet. It enables us to have solitude and companionship at the same time

6:02 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

Tracy -- your writing reflects the solitude -- I was reading the letters that you have on your website and was so impressed with how well you know your characters.

Diane -- I think you have a good point -- the way we become so involved in our srories -- routine if not solitude is very important. IMO

7:38 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Your post, Mary, made me think about the fact that I've never lived alone. I went straight from school roommate situations to living with my boyfriend who became my husband. I regret this, and think I missed something important.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks so much, Mary! It's lovely to know you enjoyed the Fraser Correspondence. Solitude probably does help one get to know one's characters, though I don't think it's essential. Sometimes I'm the most productive after a busy day where I've done a lot of driving, because I think well in the car. Of course, that's another kind of solitude. :-).

9:34 AM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Thanks for the inspirational post, Mary. I was visiting my sister and her family over the weekend at their summer home, about 2 hours from Manhattan. The Wifi had gone out so there was even more reason to just relax and focus on my reading and research (in addition to good food and good conversation) while I enjoyed the sunshine, the flowers and the pastoral setting, and all the comfy places to curl up with a book.

Even though I am home alone most days and close myself into the room that serves as my home office, there are many distractions throughout the day. It's wonderful therapy to go somewhere where you can strip away, or ignore, all the tech gadgets and simply relax and listen to the muse.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

So here's the downside to a week long writers retreat -- you do have to come home eventually and there is stuff to do everywhere -- before I leave again on Friday -- apparently I like the alone time so much it's worth the chaos on return.

Sounds pretty perfect, Leslie. Hope you get to do it again soon.

A tangent re "living alone" -- a therapist friend told me once that women over fifty have a longing for autonomy and she thought it was the reason so many happily married couples had separate bedrooms in the later years of their marriage. Thought that was an interesting concept and on talking to friends am surprised how many do voice that desire for "autonomy"

7:01 PM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

I'm a huge proponent of Virginia Woolf's theory that every woman needs "a room of one's own" -- which is why I despair the very real prospect of downsizing our living accommodations due to the economy. Like Woolf, it's the private space to be creative that I find not only important, but a necessity. However, I can't imagine wanting that room to be a bedroom! Not when my hubby and I both are perfectly healthy!

4:34 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

I agree Amanda -- especially if you've spent part of your adult life as a single woman.

4:48 AM  

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