If all goes according to my devilish plans, I should spend an unplugged weekend at my cabin in the woods beginning this afternoon and stretching into Sunday. Just me and my computer. And a large storage battery and some fishing tackle and some food in a cooler and copious amounts of iced tea and a couple of changes of clothes and a swimming suit (or not!) and The Sound and the Fury (or not) and a big dose of ambition to DO SOME WRITING!
I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what to attempt to do.
I could certainly devote all of my free time to the many stories in my Fathers and Sons cycle that keep presenting themselves to me. (“When We Were Young . . .” is monopolizing my mind these days. I’m questioning every single word, rearranging sentences, considering and reconsidering character motivations, looking for ways to sustain and enhance the tone, and trying to forgive myself for doing what I’m doing to my two protagonists.)
Or I could do that read through of Finnegans Deciphered that I must do before I begin submitting it around. I should give some effort to polishing the draft of the query letter I’ve written for it too.
Or I could do a long-overdue read through of The Sleep of Reason so I can feel comfortable submitting it again. I’ve been relying on a recycled submission letter and fading memories about the novel, and I should probably pump up my commitment to it more.
Or I could embark on that Faulkner-influenced short story I’ve spoken of before. It’s about time to apply myself to it — my reading group is now discussing The Sound and the Fury for the next few months.
I have a piece I’m writing for a friend that could use some follow up. I have several short stories I have tinkered with that could use some attention.
But I keep circling back to the Fathers and Sons stories. Most of them take place in and around a cabin in the woods. And that’s where I’ll be. I’ll be doing primary research. I ought to make the best use of it.
But it’s good to have a lot of options. I can focus like a laser for a few hours then refocus on something else (which might including fishing, swimming — the forecast calls for the upper 80s — hiking, sitting around a campfire, and suchlike). A lot of it may be determined by how well my laptop and the storage battery interact. Experience has shown that they are compatible, but I’ve never hooked them up (so to speak) for a weekend together at a lonely cabin.
A lot of insights come to me when I’m away from my writing desk. Many come while I’m in the shower, which i know is cliched, but I’ll take them. And when I’m working for the man at the office, my suffering brain occasionally rewards me with fresh ideas for story development. Even driving down the road seems to relax my brain enough to let ideas flow in. Perhaps that will happen at the cabin.
I’ve written on this humble blog before about how I’ve used unfamiliar settings to do my editing and how fruitful I’ve found that. I suppose, for me at least, being in a different place — most commonly the library — has allowed me to catch a lot of typos and spelling errors that I’d read through dozens of times while sitting at my familiar desk in my familiar room. So if nothing else, perhaps the weekend at the cabin will give me the humbling experience of finding out how many typos and spelling errors I am truly capable of.