June 1, 2014

I’m just back from my fifth visit to Dorland Mountain Arts Colony outside of Temecula, an hour away from my home in southern California.  I knew what to expect - the quiet cabin, the bare white walls, the oaks, the views over the dry Temecula Valley. The unraveling of daily stresses until it was just me and my work.  I got to it within the hour, sat at the desk and plotted out what I hoped to accomplish during my stay. No late night dog walks, a reprieve from laundry and the tyranny of the school lunch box. No TV or WiFi.  Instead stillness, hour after hour to simply think, to string together the strands of the narrative.

I won’t read any of the pages I wrote for at least two weeks. My eye, in the moment, is often unreliable, especially when I’m working on new material. I used to judge my hours at the desk - a good day, a horrendous one!  I’d  read over the good day’s pages and think yes, this is terrific, and I’d wince at the strange and unsettling material, or the few meager sentences dragged onto the page on the ghastly day, and want to cross them out.  But when I revisited the work weeks later what seemed so ‘good’ at the time was sometimes too facile, too sentimental, and what seemed unsettling and had made me squirm, often had a surprising value. 

My mood, when I’m writing, is no indicator of whether the pages are useful or not.