A Gift For Myself

IMG_0504I’m on retreat, at the beach in Duck, North Carolina. Today is my last day here.  We’ll head on home tomorrow, leaving the calming sound of the ocean right outside our door. It’s a great time to be here. There are few people about and the beach is almost always empty. The sand is covered with shells of all shapes, colors and sizes and the weather has been spectacular.  We had one very windy, cold day and it was wonderful to cozy up inside, watching the sea as it crashed on shore.  The rest of the time has been fairly warm, and sunny. The house we’re renting is tucked behind a dune and it’s pleasant sitting outside around noontime with only a light jacket needed.

This has been a much-needed break. Things at home have been great, but it’s a busy season and finding time to write has been touch and go, with thirty minutes here, 15 minutes there, and maybe an occasional hour without some sort of interruption.

Here I’ve been able to write for hours at a time.  The phone doesn’t ring, I’m saving the laundry to do when I get home, and I’m not doing any cooking.  I brought things I made a while ago and put in the freezer, like a good chili and a big container of delicious curried cauliflower soup.  We do go out, too, but being here isn’t about the food, it’s about having time to just be, walk on the beach, take naps, and write.

Bill is rewriting a play that just had a successful reading last week at Live Arts, in Charlottesville.  And I, of course, am working on my memoir. I’m not one for outlining. I usually just write and see what I get.  But just a few weeks ago, an outline simply appeared in my head. Not being one who lets hits like that go, I wrote it all down.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to finally have a focus.

I’m also not one for writing things in order and knowing how I wanted to start the book and end it, I wrote the first chapter, the last, and even the epilogue. I’ve pictured the thing as a loaf of sliced bread … Wonder Bread perhaps … I have the end pieces and now I must add slices in between.  Many of them are already there, need rewriting, but I’ve also had other things come to me, now that I have a hint of where I’m going.

That doesn’t mean it won’t change over time. I’m well aware of how quickly things can change.  Even the most up-to-date roadmap will not show all of the detours and side trips that weren’t in place when the map was printed. So I write on, trying to keep an open mind, as new ideas come to the surface.

I have also decided to set a deadline for myself. If there are huge numbers of people who set about writing a novel during the month of November, for NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month,) why in the world can’t I set a deadline for my memoir?

I’m not so good at keeping up my pace unless there is a goal.  But, I am really good at procrastinating, often finding myself wasting time. So I figure, with a bit of scheduling, while still allowing time for a nap here and there, a book I can’t put down, or simply staring into space without feeling guilty, I should be able to do it by September 1st, of next year.

IMG_0511Wow! Did I just say that? Well, alwritey then. I guess I’m going to do it.  It may not be a final draft, but it will be a draft of some kind.  And if I don’t count December, because it’s an insane time of year, I’ll have nine months to do the work. That’s how long it took for my kids to cook in my belly.  Mark needed a little extra time, taking ten months. So maybe when September rolls around and I’m not quite done, I can give myself another month?

Seriously, I want to try.  I’ve told my sweet man, that I don’t want to go on any trips for the first few months of the New Year. If we’re all lying at the bottom of the cliff, as some are predicting, then we won’t be able to afford it anyway.  A weekend fling here or there would be fine, but I need time to get my words working. Traveling for long periods of time just doesn’t suite when I’m trying to focus.  But, if another retreat like this could be fit into the schedule, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Especially if I knew it would mostly be for writing time.

IMG_0517After this week of rest, relaxation, and writing, I’m ready to head back into the month of gift giving.  I still have a list I need to tackle, but much of it is easy and homemade.  But the best gift I’m giving this year is to myself … Nine months to finish growing my book.  Wish me luck!

Are you finished gathering all of the Christmas gifts you are going to give this year?  Most importantly, are you planning on giving yourself one?  What will it be?

This entry was posted in Books, Christmas, Memoir, Navigating Through Life, Retreats, stories, The Sea, Time, Travels, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Gift For Myself

  1. warmginger says:

    You’ll do it of course! Have you read Agatha Christie’s Autobiography? It’s wonderful, particularly because she just wrote about the bits she wanted to AND it’s got a pretty loose structure which I loved. She does loads of jumping back and forth in time and it feels like you get to know her better because of it. She also acknowledges her lack of confidence as a writer but just gets on with it anyway – inspiration to us all I think! 🙂
    Your retreat sounds and looks idyllic. I think you and your memoir must have a few next year two. You’ve just reminded me it’s the first of December tomorrow, so I’m going to have to run out and buy some sweets to put behind the doors of the boys’ advent calendar. I guess that tells you all you need to know about my festive planning. In my defence, there’s a lovely lack of hype in a Muslim country!

    • jzrart says:

      Thanks for your confidence in me. I need to hear it! I did read Agatha Christie’s autobiography a while back and enjoyed it. Guess I should check it out again.

      It has been idyllic to be here and at lunch today, I talked about coming back in April for a week, possibly all by myself. We’ll see ….

      I love that you are having an unhyped holiday season! Have a happy one!

  2. Stephanie Gaines says:

    A beautiful post. Thank so much for your message. Was especially needed today!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • jzrart says:

      Thank you, Stephanie, for you kind words. I am glad that you found something you needed today. When giving gifts, we so often forget ourselves. Kindness is especially important, if we are to be kind ourselves.

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