Sunday, October 14, 2007

dream come true: self-created writing retreat

When I decided to do one thing every day that scares me, one of the things I quickly decided I would do within the course of the month is make some serious headway on my thesis. This is an extremely important step for me because of the very great need I feel to tie up this particular loose end. Finishing my thesis would open up a whole new space in my life--mentally, emotionally, and probably even spiritually. Every single day this thing looms over me, it nags at the back of my mind, creates little nigglings of stress, incessantly tap-tap-taps at my chamber door. In short, it won't leave me alone. No matter what I'm doing, it causes me to always feel like I should be doing something else (read: working on my thesis). And (quite obviously) working on my thesis is something I have not been doing often enough of.

A couple weeks ago I was a bit irritated when I found out that I wasn't scheduled for as many hours as usual this coming week. But then I thought...Ok, I can either be mad about losing hours OR I can use the extra time to my advantage. I decided on the second option and, from there, immediately resolved that I would take this unexpected expanse of time and head to the woods for some uninterrupted writing time. Yes, DEEP into the woods. Just my wolfie and me.

I'm leaving directly after work today and I won't be back until Thursday.
2 days for travel.
3 days for writing.

Writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking, writing, woods walking.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

I've packed my notebooks and pens and enough books to last me a lifetime. You see, with the book packing I allowed myself the luxury to bring books that have even the remote possibility of being useful. I'm planning on working on the critical section of my thesis and I don't want to find myself in the middle of the woods wishing I had remembered to bring ___*potential book title goes here*___. Never mind that I have an entire liquor box PLUS a book bag FULL to the brim with books that are (even loosely) associated with the topic of memoir, essay, creative nonfiction, or sense of place. There are some that have absolutely nothing to do with anything, but are coming along for no other reason than sheer inspiration--which, if you ask me, is as good a reason as any.

Of course, if I find myself inspired to work on the creative portion of the thesis, there's the possibility that I won't use any of the books--but that's ok, too. The best part about a self-created writing retreat is that there are NO rules. :)

The last time I felt so perfectly excited and focused about taking on a writing endeavor was when I was in India and decided to rent a room for several weeks to do nothing else but write. Unfortunately, I only have 3 days, not 3 weeks--but, hey, I'll take what I can get.

Things I will NOT have: phone, electricity, running water, a bathroom, noise pollution, light pollution, needy (but oh-so-loving) puppy, needy (but oh-so-loving) husband, love from said husband and puppy, television, internet, hot showers, loud traffic, sirens, drug dealers, nosy neighbors, disruptions of any kind, humming refrigerator, humming freeway...

Things I WILL have: peace and quiet (enough to make my ears ring), stars (enough to take my breath away), Anu love, yellow legal tablets and pens, books, fresh air, food that tastes better than ever because it's cooked outside on an open fire, very cold swim in a nearby lake if I'm brave enough, sleeping bag (good up to -20f), French press coffee (never leave home without good coffee), hobo dinners (I'll share my "recipe" upon my return), miles and miles of trails, chai, bright orange sweatshirt to protect me from hunters, fall colors, snow (??--oh, could I be so lucky?!), a bonfire, candles, writing by lantern light, the sound of howling wolves, wild flower bouquets, a stack of my favorite books, words that bring me one step closer to accomplishing a major goal...

I know...this sounds way too enjoyable to be an act of bravery. Right? Well, for me, working on my thesis is possibly the most extreme act of bravery out there. The travel, the woods, the time to myself...well, that's just padding to make the experience more pleasurable. Hey--no one said bravery had to be torturous. ;)

Going out of town twice with only a couple days in between has left me far behind with reading blogs and writing emails. Please forgive me. I look forward to catching up with all of you soon!


martha said...

Hi Jesse! I hope you have a very productive trip! I was just thinking about you and your thesis the other day and hoping that it is going well. My daughter just finished hers last month and it was a huge weight off her mind. Go for it! I will be interested to read what you are willing to share. hugs!

laundrygirl said...

This sound delicious and very,very BRAVE. I can imagine that fear of trying to get towards completion combined with the anxiety of wanting it to be just right and battling against being paralyzed in that state... I'm cheering you on and I hope it is a great and worthwhile trip in every possible way.

Anonymous said...

hey jessie,

i hope you have a wonderful time, and i look forward to reading your musings upon your return! kick some serious thesis !@#$!

Elizabeth said...

This sounds brave and yet not... far too tempting and lovely to be just a scary thing, it is a luxury too. Lucky you! Have a great trip... hope you achieve much. x

Colorsonmymind said...

Oh Jessie- this does sound scary and exhilerating. So proud of this step in bravery to carve out some time to work on that thesis.

Hope it was uber productive.

Anonymous said...

Your trip sounds so cozy and yummy.
Yellow legal 'em!
And coffee...ah yes....I share your love of coffee. Especially with the cooler fall weather here now.
Good luck to you, maybe new surroundings will help you tackle your thesis.
Can't wait to read more when you return.

kj said...

ok, do i have this straight?: you are cooking outside? you have no heat?

please re-assure me it is not this primitive, because i can't imagine writing or typing with frozen fingers.

i admire you, girl! you and the elements and anu journaling it all.

have a blast!


Kikipotamus said...

OMG, this is HUGELY brave and wonderful. I'm so glad you remembered to wear orange. It IS that season. Having just returned from two days alone in the woods, I feel confident this will be everything you are hoping and much more.

Olivia said...

This is brave, Jessie, very brave. Good for you. It know that this is a very critical thing and will be thinking of you, accomplishing what you need to. Good for you! Love and courage, O

The Dream said...

Yeah, you continue to be a super hero/rock star in my mind! Best to you on the journey.

Tori said...

What a gift that you have been able to give yourself. This is quite inspiring.