It’s Day Twelve of my unofficial half-Nano, and if there’s one piece of advice I have for those of you out there who belong to one or more still-dependent children and/or are working one or more stressful jobs in or outside of the house* and are still trying to do any level of Nanowrimo, it’s this:
Run away from home for a couple of days.
I mean, you might want to do this anyway, but at least using Nanowrimo as an excuse makes it sound like you’re fleeing for the hills because of your strong work-ethic instead of your fraying sanity.
Regardless, my friends Grace and Cha-Cha and Grace’s Mom and I headed up on Friday to a bit of the Mississippi River that divides Iowa and Wisconsin.
Cha and I carpooled, and I’m glad she was with me, primarily because when your sister-in-law’s GPS–with which you already have a strained relationship—sends you three miles down a winding road that has Private Property signs posted on every other tree and intermittent structures that aren’t so much lean-tos as lean-away-froms, it’s good to be able to turn to the person next to you and ask, “Did you just hear the first few bars of the Love Theme from Deliverance,** or is it just me?”
But we arrived safely at our Cabin in the Woods, and all kidding aside, it was completely worth it, for the scenery alone:
That’s the view I would have seen all day from the small table on my tiny balcony, if it hadn’t been so flippin’ cold out that I spent most of my time looking at this:
Or perhaps slightly higher, because that is the corner of a flatscreen TV, hooked up to both a satellite dish and a Blu-ray player, on the mantel
We didn’t have any kind of schedule or itinerary or set alarm clocks between check-in Friday and check-out Monday. We all got together for meals or to play Tri-ominoes*** or watch DVDs,^ but attendance wasn’t mandatory.
We all had our own things to do: Cha-cha napped and read, Grace knitted or tatted lace in front of the tube, Grace’s Mom worked Sudoku and cross-stitched and made the best dill pickle soup I have ever tasted.^^
And I got up around six every morning, showered, made a pot of coffee, and wrote and wrote and took bathroom breaks and asked the nearest person how to spell Niçoise—and make sure it’s the tuna salad thing and not the Belgian word for athlete’s foot—and wrote until lunch.
It was awesome.^^^
I like to joke that six am is sleeping in for me, but the real reasons I didn’t do more to pay off my chronic sleep deficit was the morning sun streaming through the window of my room at the crack of dawn—there were no blinds on the side of the house facing the river, so even afternoon naps were a problem. Plus I never remember to take my own pillow, so I had the choice of having my neck permanently bent by these useless flat feather-fluff things or have embroidered fleur-de-lis embossed on my cheek by the decorative cushions.
Bad for my caffeine intake, great for my word-count.
It was also a good—if nerve-wracking—thing that there was no WiFi and my smartphone could only get a very weak Internet signal (or bars, come to that) at certain rare times, supposing a barge was coming through and I set the phone down flat on the windowsill of the upstairs bathroom, something I only tried once or twice. I had no problem with the venue—as the actress said to the bishop—-but the angle was awkward.
blogging webcomics diddling around research, terrific for my word-count, because “[insert name of Hungarian Kosher Deli here]” counts as seven.
I managed a little over six thousand words in four days, and am almost seven hundred ahead of the game at the writing of this post.
So I can highly recommend escaping to a remote northeastern Iowa location as a Nano strategy.
And asking Grace’s Mom to cook.
I also recommend visiting a specific local yarn store° on your way back home . . .
. . . especially if it’s right next door to a shop run by an Anglophile who stocks a stunning variety of loose teas, the entire backlist of G. K. Chesterton—whose commentary on Shakespeare is fantastic, trust me—and the version of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Robert Ingpen, whose Alice looks just like Sunny.
But you might want to avoid driving through a $#!&&ing snow storm all the way home.
‘Cause that cuts into your writing time something fierce.
How do you run away?
*Stay at home caregiving counts double, people, don’t even try to debate me on this.
**If you don’t get this reference . . . you’re on your own. But the song is here.
***Three-sided dominos. It’s diabolical. Or maybe that’s just Grace, who takes this game very seriously.
^Or to take a side trip to the oldest bar and restaurant in Iowa, which also features a winery and convenient country gift shop with inconvenient country mice falling from the rafters. But I digress . . .
^^That wasn’t difficult, but it was very, very good.
^^^ I always considered myself a night-writer, because that’s usually when I can, these days, but I’m wondering what would happen if I had my mornings free . . .
°That yarn in that second image is insane—I couldn’t capture the intensity of the colors right with my cheapo camera, but it’s like the roving was gathered from an explosion in a Rastafarian Muppet factory. Knitting with it makes my fingers feel good.