My Musical Family - Joy Riggs

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A blog about my family's adventures in making and appreciating music.
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Creating Writing Space

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 10:34am
When I went on a writing retreat two weeks ago, my son Sebastian—the amateur military historian—jokingly questioned why I was retreating from my writing. It made me stop and consider the funny ways in which our language often conveys contradictory meanings.

I could have called it a writing advance, since I did accomplish a great deal during the four-day retreat at Faith’s Lodge in northern Wisconsin. But a writing advance makes it sound like something else (something that I would love to get for the book I am currently writing).

In this case, the retreat had nothing to do with the definition of the word that indicates failure, as in a withdrawal of troops because you are losing a battle. It was instead about withdrawing from my regular life for a few days to a place of tranquility. Sometimes you have to retreat in order to advance. By joining a group of talented and inspiring women writers, led by the ever-amazing author, editor and teacher Kate Hopper, I was able to accomplish much more than I would have if I had tried to write at home on my own during those four days.

Unfortunately, I can’t go on a writing retreat every weekend. So creating writing space at home is important as I continue to work toward my goal of completing a draft of my book by the end of this calendar year.

This space takes two forms, the space in my calendar, and the space in my house. The former is something I am constantly working on, by blocking out time each week for writing (daily when possible), and setting specific, measurable goals for completing the chapters. The latter is something I accomplished a few weeks ago, before the writing retreat/advance, when I transformed my daughter’s upstairs bedroom into my office/guest bedroom (an act endorsed by Louisa, who is now in college and will only be home for a few weeks this summer).
A view of my new office.It has already made a difference. I painted the walls a cheery yellow, and I moved all my files and books into the room from the downstairs study I had shared with the rest of the family. Now, nothing gets placed on top of my desk unless I put it there, and I can close the door when I want privacy.

My new office is a place where I can both retreat and advance—until my next official writing retreat, which is set for mid-May!
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