Last week, I went on retreat. I left my writing setup, with familiar desk and computer, to go to a hushed place to be fed and to walk and to think and to write on my iPad. I wasn’t sure how novel writing would go on the iPad. I am rather particular about where I write my books, unlike with my blog writing or poetry. For books, I have always banged away on my main computer with its unchanging view of the same wall and the same window with the same view outside.
I surprised myself though: I was able to bang away on my iPad’s bluetooth keyboard on a strange desk facing a strange wall with a different view out the window. I did need my outline, but that’s always handy in my Index Card app on the iPad. And I did need WiFi for those odd times I had to look up some factoid plus send backup copies of my chapters to the cloud. But mostly, once I put fingers to keyboard, I was able to create and then go veering off from my outline.
I don’t know why I’m surprised I veered off — I seem to do that in most of my novels. This time though, some of my original ideas are returning, and I’m stretching yet compressing the story out more. Luckily, my escape from my life and retreat into focussing on my novel, coincided with when Chantie also ditched Twitter to retreat into her “real life” so that logically, in the story progression, there would be no tweets from her for several days. It was a bit of a relief for me because though I had planned on tweeting out whatever my characters did in the story, once I got to my retreat location, I was rather loathe to have anything to do with my real world. I had things to ponder outside of my writing and needed space to decompress and to sort out where this trauma therapy I’m getting is going.
As researchers have noted, according to an article I read linked to from Twitter this morning, expressive writing is a good way to heal traumas, and part of my brain biofeedback includes ten minutes of writing. But sometimes you just need a break. It’s hard to escape one’s head injury and memories, but in a supportive environment, for a couple of days anyway, it can happen. After that, you can’t escape the reality of the injury’s effects on every aspect of yourself — from needing a reminder to eat to resting after walking to your pain levels and sleep — but the same supportive environment makes it not so bad. And it did keep the memories at bay for a little while. Of course, the flashbacks are back now. Sigh. There is no magic pill or retreat to consign them to void space forever.
The two best parts of the retreat for me was walking a labyrinth for the first time and catching up on where I should be in NaNoWriMo (I was a bit behind my chapter per day goal) then zooming on past, which meant I was able to take a day off writing on my birthday. Sweet.