How to Turn a Home into a Writing Retreat

 Chair and Books

“We think of retreat as going away, but it need not be a physical act. Each of us can find our own way to silence. We withdraw and the inner world appears.” Deena Metzger

 BY KIMBERLY MAYER

If this post were structured like a real how-to, Step 1 would be to turn off the television. Or in our case, never turn it on. Whether we want to write, read, paint, sculpt, or meditate, there is no better step than that.

What we are aiming to do here is to create a sanctuary, an oasis of civilization. What Gordon Lish referred to as “a haven in a heartless world.” In our case a writing retreat, and this is our attempt at that using our house.

To begin with, we went out of our way–left the city last year to be here, in the San Juan Islands. Downshifting…

And upon a lot in an old growth forest by the sea, there sat a modular Timberland Home, circa 1997, which we redesigned in sustainable materials to be in harmony with nature. Down went LP siding, up went cedar shake shingles. Down came numerous interior walls, and up came generous open space living.

Everything opens to sky and sea; we knew nothing should detract from that.

It’s the shimmering waters. It’s the quality of air. It’s the wildlife. It’s the quiet. It’s the organic foods. It’s having as many outdoor spaces as in. It’s the reverence for nature. And if you ask me, it’s to be shared.

So I invited a writer friend to live with us. (note: this step has to be as important as no television). Dear friend,  brilliant writer. He too is finishing a book.

Together we imitate graduate school here: writing days, and long walks. Good food, discussions, books, and sometimes reading aloud at night what had been written by day.

Suddenly all this nature and art. It was working for me. I know this to be true because he went away for a couple days and I could barely tap out this piece.

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4 Comments

Filed under writing retreat

4 responses to “How to Turn a Home into a Writing Retreat

  1. Alice B. Acheson

    So? Your husband is also a writer?

    Best, Alice

    ========== Alice B. Acheson, Book Marketing/Publicity Specialist P. O. Box 735 Friday Harbor, WA 98250 360/378-2815 http://sites.google.com/site/alicebacheson a little elbow room wrote on 5/21/2015 11:37 AM: > WordPress.com > a little elbow room posted: ” “We think of retreat as going away, but > it need not be a physical act. Each of us can find our own way to > silence. We withdraw and the inner world appears.” Deena Metzger BY > KIMBERLY MAYER If this post were structured like a real how-to, Step ” >

  2. he’s a retired executive turned artist…

  3. Shira Brewer

    Wow! This sounds pretty idyllic and special, Kim! I’m happy for you! And for the lucky writer friend too. 🙂

  4. John.Ahrens@me.com

    The pedagogy of creating the writer and finding a space…..
    Hunter S Thompson might have gone stark raving mad with such an idyllic picturesque place
    John Irvin liked to throw you to the mats and wrestle a bottle of Single malt Scotch.
    Creative process counts on many paths……..
    I like the row, walk repeat between bird tweet
    but I’m older now
    There was a time when the east village of NYC was my Ziggy Stardust

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