Knowing what I know now, here's what I would have done differently for my Wildacres experience:
- I would have taken more fun or "intense" books to read. I took one wonderful manuscript of a friend and a bunch of "how to" writing books. Curling up at night with a book on how to write better dialogue wasn't cutting it. I would have been better off taking books I could get "lost" in to make the time go by.
- I would have gone out more. This was advice written by prior cabin dweller's in the journals. "Go to town, go out for a meal, leave the cabin," they urged. But I was there to work! Surely three hours driving into town and hanging out would be wasteful. So I didn't go. But wish I had. I think a little more time spent around people during the week would have made me appreciate the alone time at the cabin.
- Worked on a different project. This one is a maybe. I spent all week working on my non-fiction book and accomplished a lot. The book was 90% written when I arrived but in desperate need of order and editing. So most of my time was spent cutting/pasting/editing and not writing. I wonder if the experience would have been different if I had exhausted myself with some creative writing time. Still... the editing had needed to be done for a month and being at the cabin finally gave me the chance to sit down and knock it out. The book is close to done-done at this point. (Or, done enough that I'm ready to have it read and critiqued).
As it was, I spent so much time in the cabin (it rained a good deal which I kind of enjoyed. The cabin had a tin roof and the rain rustling in the trees heard through the open windows was pleasant) that I quickly grew weary of it. Coming back from a walk and walking the gravel drive that led to the cabin door, my body and mind would feel heavy. I'd sigh as I entered the room. I missed people. Specific people, yes. But even just having a body sitting in the chair next to me, not talking, would have been nice. I missed the presence of people.
I have to admit, I was disappointed in myself. I'd been so looking forward to this week of solitude. A whole week just to write and be creative! And yet I was ready to pack it up on day two. But I found comfort in a writer friend, a woman who I consider to be a gifted and "serious" writer. She spent a week at Wildacres last year and said she was unnerved by the experience as well. She's done several residencies and said she's never had trouble anywhere else except Wildacres. It was just too much solitude. (She is also very into energies and she wonders if there is some sort of negative energy flow around the cabin or mountain). I don't know about that, but this woman is someone I would expect to thrive in this environment and the fact that she found it a challenge as well makes me feel better.
On the bright side, there is nothing like time away to make you appreciate what you have. Our home was in desperate need of a good cleaning and I cheerfully spent 4 hours Saturday morning whisking dust away, happy to be home and have the chance to do it.
This week is one I would normally describe as a "nightmare" of projects and talks and due dates, but I'm whistling as I go about my work. So much to be done--yea! What a full life I am fortunate to lead. My meltdown on this blog last month about my doing waaaay to much volunteer work has changed over to gratitude. Being away reminded me why I'm involved with all the groups and projects that I am. It's because I like the people and the projects are important to me. That got lost in the "This is due now and I'm overwhelmed and stressed" living of daily life. For the moment, at least, it's more "This is due now and I'm stressed but lucky me--I get to work on this."
Speaking of which, a multitude of projects are staring at me from my desk, awaiting my attention. Cabin Fever is gone, lots of good energy back in the worklife. So the cabin probably gave me what I needed after all.