Well Met in Grand Marais

January 26, 2016 § 2 Comments

I’m on a bit of a writing retreat this week: three nights at a suite in Grand Marais, MN, looking out over Lake Superior. Since Cedar’s birth, I’ve got a bit of writing done, but only by becoming that creature I’ve always pitied: the working parent who writes by getting up at some awfully early time to seize a few hours before the responsibilities of the day wake up screaming for attention. I’ve had a bit of luck at it, especially working on a few short projects during the last few months. But now that I am trying to start a new novel-length project, I am finding I’m having trouble really sinking in to the world of the book and getting a vision for it as a whole. As a result, I’m hoping to get a decent sense of the arc while up here, and get some good writing down for the first section as well.

One day in, I’ve already had to scale back my expectations. I’d hoped to finish a good draft of the first chapter but am realizing now I should be happy with a good draft of the first scene. That said, part of the reason the actual writing is going slower than at home is that the novel as a complete book is looking a whole lot realer to me, and I am filling out loose outlines, detailed character sketches, and loading up a trio of notebooks with research. As you can see from the photos, I have a lot going on and not too many distractions. At the very least, I should leave with a good plan for the coming months and a bit of momentum to start filling it in.

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View of the desk

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View from the desk

On a fun note, I am staying at the same hotel my wife and I stayed at for a romantic winter getaway last year. At the time, I was just starting the fantasy reading kick I have been on lately with a slim book I found in a little free library: Ill Met at Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber. It seemed like a fun read, but I found myself gravitating to the other book I brought instead: Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon. I figured I’d focus on the longer novel, since I had the luxury of whole afternoons blocked off to read in peace; I’d have plenty of time to finish the shorter work at home in small bits. It turned out to be an ill-fated choice, though, because I forgot the book on the bedside table when we left and have been wondering what happened to Farfarhd and the Mouser ever since, checking Half Price Books at least monthly for a replacement copy.

You can imagine my joy, then, when I found the book among the free offerings in the lounge of the hotel yesterday. This year I am not going to risk it, vowing to finish before I leave.

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