Monday, 7 March 2011

A shack in the woods





snow, blowing snow, temps minus 3

At least it's mild. And frankly, I'd rather have snow than rain at this time of year. Though yesterday started as rain, quite heavy at times, then changed to snow - and by night it was a blizzard. And we woke up to the blizzard, continuing.

You might notice a slight shift in perspective as you look at the photos. That's because I decided to scoot in to Montreal for a few days - to write quietly on my own. I wish I'd thought of that with all the other books. Just the first few days...so I can totally focus. Just get in some food, some diet ginger ale, some DVD's, and spend the day writing. Then completely relax. Then wake up in the morning and write some more.

I can't explain why this makes such a difference, but it does.

Earlier in my writing career I wasn't sure why so many writers describe the process as isolating. I felt, and still do in so many ways, that I have never been so connected to the world around me, and my fellows, than when I'm writing. Because I have to pay close attention. Listen closely. Observe. Be very present. Take it all in.

But now two things occur to me. When I'm doing that I'm connected....but it's in a sort of observer capacity. engaged at times, absolutely...but often one step removed. Watching.

The other thing is that I find as time and the career and the demands go on, that I crave and need privacy more and more. It really is easier to write when I'm alone. I can see why writers often go away. Often renting a shack in the woods, where they know no one. Where there's often no one to know.

This apartment in Montreal is my 'shack in the woods' - ironic since I left my home in the woods to come here...to find peace.

And when I say I yearn to be alone to write - that doesn't exclude Michael. I'd be happy to have him here. As it is, when we're apart we call and email all the time. But we decided he should stay home to look after Trudy. She's always happiest when at home, and we;re so often away it didn't seem fair.

But coming to Montreal was, for me and the writing, wonderful. This is what I consider bliss. Writing, and not having anything else to think about. Not shopping, not cooking, not making yet another excuse to a kind invitation from a friend.

And the writing is going very well...so often, when I come to the second draft I end up changing a lot of the beginning of the first, so I'm not sure how much of this you'll ever get to read...but it doesn't matter right now. The key is to get it down, and keep moving forward...and getting deeper and deeper into the characters and themes. The rest will sort itself out in time.

As you can see from the snowy photos - Michael took some as he and Trudy struggled to go for a walk. And I took the Montreal street scenes...along Ste-Catherine, near Greene Ave. they don't really do the blizzard justice since you don't get a sense of the snow whipping by.

I know many of you have been clobbered by the same system. Hope you're staying safe.

Michael went off to have dinner at the cottage last night with Bal,Linda, Bethany and their friend, a fellow Canadian writer, Wayson Choy. I've never met him, but they're coming over for tea on Thursday afternoon. I'll obviously be home by then, otherwise it would be a ridiculous invitation!

Hope you're safe and sound, where ever you are!

11 comments:

Diane said...

Caught sight of your blizzard on our news at noon in the maritimes -wow, a full scale blizzard.

Enjoy your time to focus without any distractions. Happens seldom for the majority of us. Cheers, Diane

Anonymous said...

Hi Louise, I am glad that the writing is going well. I was wondering whether you had any use for 'do not disturb' signs if you really needed to concentrate on the task at hand.

Well, the snow storm of last night and this morning took care of that - nobody would come in such weather. At least it is not too cold - for the moment...

VT

lil Gluckstern said...

I hope you enjoy your time writing. That sure is a lot of snow, but pretty to come home to. Drive safe.

Jan Morrison said...

Yes, the city writers run to the country and the country mice run to the city - anything to shock the system with a refreshing change! I live in the country but near town AND still sometimes I need to go away to a cottage or a hotel room or somewhere to be alone and write (or more likely - revise). I have about three weeks or less of a final polish on one manuscript and I'm doing it in dribs and drabs. I think, when I can, I'll carve out a week somewhere to work.

Jules said...

Safe and sound with Still life that I started at lunch today! My English is not where I'd like it to be, but I'll keep reading...

Linda Gray said...

Wow, that snow is amazingly beautiful, and I'm so glad I'm only viewing it in photos! Having moved from Chicago to the mild part of the U.S. Pacific Northwest a few years ago, I'm still doing the 'no snow happy dance.' Forces of nature like that, though, do inspire. Sounds like between the ethereal snowscape and the writer's coveted solitude, you found your bliss. Can't wait to read the book!

Joanne Carnegie said...

I'm with Linda on this one. Glad you've found the peace you need, and I'm glad I don't have to shovel out that driveway!

Looking forward to reading the next book, whenever it's ready.

Mary said...

It was like Christmas in March here with the snow too - very pretty. I mentioned to my husband that your next book is based at a monastery & he mentioned that he had visited St Benoit's in Quebec when he was a seminary student back in the day. And that he had also visited their sister monastery St Benoit sur Loire (?) in France. They served the most delicious potatoes for supper, but he was careful not to over-indulge or he would ruin his appetite for the main course. Alas, that was the main course. He went to bed very hungry!

martha said...

When I read your posts it is almost as if I were reading your books. The tone is similar -- quiet, relaxed, deep --all in a positive manner. I can also "hear" you thinking, and it makes me feel closer to everything you are and write. I look forward to reading more every day!

Tia in Oregon said...

How well I remember a blizzard in 1963 that snowed us in for several days - maybe a week. The grocer brought food to the bottom of the hill and my son and his dad took a sled down to pick up the food. Not fun when the power went off and the pump in the well couldn't work - no water!

A Novel Woman said...

Keep an eye on the sky - more snow is predicted for Thursday. Bah, I say! I've had enough for one winter. I need tulips and warm breezes and green grass poking through...