Day: November 2, 2017

Scattered Scenes from Arrival Day at the Writing Retreat

It turns out that packing several thick books next to blocks of chocolate will result in airport security wanting to hand search my bag. Then they will wipe down the chocolate to see if they are as advertised rather than being blocks of something explosive instead. The guy doing the search was pleasant. He took one look at my Planet Mercenary book and asked if there was a gaming convention happening. Apparently cases full of minis have been going through security today.

The pass through security was made extra interesting by the fact that my anxious 16yo started texting me just as I was dismantling my kit to pass through the scanning machines. She was worried about her math test and because of her anxiety, if I don’t answer promptly, she tends to ratchet up in intensity. So while my phone was going through the x-ray, I could hear it chiming. Then I had to decide if texting on my phone while waiting for my bag to be hand searched would make me look suspicious. I texted anyway and the staff didn’t react at all. Being middle-aged, white, blonde, female, and non-threatening almost certainly contributed to their unconcern.

The security check and reassurance of teenager both wrapped at about the same time. I told her she had my permission to completely bomb her math test. She answered:
“THANK YOU. I didn’t know I needed permission to get answers wrong until you said that. I’m still gonna do my best, but now I have permission to fail. Wow, I’m weird.”
I answered that I’m the same kind of weird, so we can hang out together in solidarity. It was a fun exchange.

I checked back an hour later. She didn’t bomb the test.


The location for this retreat is lovely. I’ve not been to Phoenix before, so it was fascinating to see saguaro cacti growing along side the freeways like trees. We even have one here in the garden of the house where we are staying. The whole place feels familiar and welcoming to me. The architecture is south-west spanish influenced, just like my home town in California. The plants are similar to my home town as well (except for the saguaro). But the air is dry the way that Utah air is dry. I like all of it. I’ve even found what I think will be my preferred writing nook.

We’ll see if it is as lovely in the heat of the day as it was at sunset. In my room I discovered that my hosts went above and beyond to make me feel welcome.

They quested to locate and purchase some Rose Lemonade, which can’t have been easy and was a true kindness considering they must have had dozens of other preparatory tasks to do.


Here at the retreat meals are social times. We gather to eat and talk. I’ve begun to learn names. I suppose I should have prepared for the “what are you working on” questions. It is so hard to not frame my answers as apologies. Apologizing for not working on a novel like so many of the others. Instead I practiced my professional skills and spoke positively about the writing work I’ve been doing on Planet Mercenary. After the fact I realized that I can also speak about the writing I do on Kickstarter updates and customer support emails. These are genres of writing that take every bit as much forethought and effort as any other form of writing that I’ve done.

I’m quite tired this evening, so I’ll likely turn in early. Tomorrow I’ll venture forth and write more words.

The Waiting Place… Again

Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow…
…or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another chance
Everyone is just waiting.
–Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

I’ve posted this quote before. It always runs through my head when I realize that part of my brain is waiting for an event. Today I’m waiting for multiple things. The most prominent being the fact that I’m waiting for a shuttle to take me to the airport, where I will wait to get on a plane, then wait to get off a plane, then wait for a ride to get to my destination. Of course the shuttle isn’t due to arrive for three hours. Theoretically I could get a lot of work done in those hours, in practice it is difficult to get my brain to engage with the work because I know I’ll have to stop in order to leave. In part, writing this post is helping my creative brain warm up to the idea that we can do something useful with the next three hours instead of just making the time pass quickly by watching Netflix.

I’m waiting on a larger scale as well. It shows clearly in my paper journal where I allow myself to be repetitive with my thoughts and words. Lately there have been a lot of lists like this:
3 weeks to Thanksgiving
6 weeks until college girl is permanently home from college (graduation in Spring)
7.5 weeks until Christmas
8.5 weeks until 20yo starts his residential “Autism school for Adulting” program.

I’m counting down because the change in who lives at home will be a big shift in our household dynamics. I’m curious to see how it will play out. Also I’m very excited for both kids to be moving forward into the next phase of their lives. There is also an element of making myself accustomed to the idea that my second child will be leaving home. I’d resigned myself to a long, slow launch that I figured would take another five years or more. But he’s anxious to get out and build his own life, so this guided program lets him move out far earlier than he could do solo. It has been less than a month since he decided he wanted it, applied, and was accepted. I’m still re-calibrating.

And I’m struggling to not switch over into waiting mode. Waiting mode isn’t very creatively productive. Instead I remind myself that I’ve been waiting for this trip to a writing retreat for almost a year. I need to not spend the retreat focused on waiting for something else. And that starts by not spending the next 2.5 hours waiting for a shuttle.