Today I’m writing to you from West Cork. I’ve run away! I’ve always wanted to write a book about a woman who runs away from her life and starts up anew. And let’s be honest, we’ve all thought about it, haven’t we? Just grabbing the passport and a few things, emptying out the current account and running off to Paris, or Montana or wherever the first flight out of Dublin takes you. Life can get pretty stressful sometimes, and it’s normal to want to escape now and then. I haven’t really run away (as you’ve probably guessed). I’m on a writing retreat. I’m hiding away in my parents’ holiday home in a quiet little village. There’s no internet connection here (so I won’t be posting this until I get back), no mobile reception and the only people who know I’m here are my family and close friends. I can’t play with Facebook or Twitter, I can’t check out clothes I can’t afford (and don’t really need) on Netaporter, I can’t read blogs. It’s only when I’m down here that I realise what a distraction the internet truly is.
I’ve only been here a day now and I’ve already written a 5,000 word short story for a teen collection called ‘And Then He Kissed Me’ which will be out in 2013. This evening I’m going to work on Amy Green 5; tomorrow I’ll do more Amy 5, plus talk to two local schools in the afternoon. Friday I’ll do more Amy and write a review of the new Maurice Sendak, Bumble-Ardy, hardly a chore! I ADORE Maurice Sendak.
I’ve also walked, day dreamed, scribbled some notes for a new children’s series, danced around the living room to Madonna’s Like a Prayer, and Eye of the Tiger (I probably shouldn’t admit this but hey!). I haven’t brushed my hair or looked in a mirror once. And I LOVE it. I feel free. And my mind is full of ideas, all kinds of wonderful thoughts – some completely crazy, some not so crazy. At home my brain is so full of ‘stuff’ – a lot of it other people’s stuff – that it doesn’t have time to breath, let alone invent.
For a writer, getting away from everyday life once in a while is vital. Being alone is important. Having time to think or just be is important. Our lives are so busy, it’s increasingly difficult to find the time to just sit and think. We always think we should be doing something, filling up our hours – reading, writing, watching telly, Facebooking, cooking, socialising . . . it’s endless.
It’s taken me a long time to enjoy being alone. Now I positively relish it. It refreshes me. It wakes up my mind, fires my imagination.
When was the last time you allowed yourself some time out? Even one free afternoon, or one free hour wandering around an art gallery, sitting on a park bench, or walking in the park is worth fighting for.
If you can get away for a few days, even better. Maybe someone has a holiday house they don’t use much in the winter? Or maybe there’s a mid week hotel break you can take advantage of. They’ll survive without you for a few days back home, honest!
You’ll be amazed at how much writing you can get done AND how much bad dancing. And you’ll feel all the better for both, believe me!
Yours in writing,