Saturday, 22 January 2011

Writing retreats and this will be our year


Last night my friend Joey and I had a writing retreat in my living room. It was great! We set the table with water, chocolate and laptops and fired away.

Joey and I are both working on manuscripts for books and have the philosophy that though tapping away on a chapter is a perfectly legitimate way to spend a Friday evening, tapping away next to another human is even better. We like to call this side-by-side working parallel play.

I think I've written about my obsession with parallel play in the past. Joey, mother to one-year-old Avonlea, coined the phrase last year. Technically, parallel play is a phase in child development when kids are able to play next to one another without actually interacting. For little ones it's a season they'll move on from, but for busy writers it's a luxurious regression.

We're not legalistic parallel players by any means -- we do interact at scheduled intervals. In fact, we use a tomato timer to let us know when we can stop, share and put the kettle on.

While last night was amazing (we got so much done, even with a dinner break courtesy of the taco truck), we're going to level it up soon by taking the retreat on the road. That's right, we're going to do a full weekend of writing in a barn loft on Orcas Island! A wood-fire stove, garden and sea access -- it's the stuff of writers' dreams.

Now, if I could offer one tip for successful parallel play it would be this: make sure you're both on the same figurative page. It's always awkward meeting someone for what you think will be a parallel playtime and noticing they've brought nothing to work on. "Oh, so you wanted to to talk while we drink this coffee?"

I think that since Dan is working tonight I'm going to hunker down for another evening of writing. The gift of time is something I rarely take for granted, so this weekend I'm making full use.

Are you getting time to work on the things you want to? The year is still young, and I love the sign I saw in the shop front of Assemble Gallery and Studio the other day on Phinney: "This will be our year."

I hope this is our year!

6 comments:

Camiguin Piper Foster said...

You guys are inspiring! Excited to read the fruits of your writing retreat.

alisha said...

Thanks Camuigan! I'm excited for retreats with you coming up soon too. :)

Joanna Roddy said...

Thanks for the shout out. There's something so affirming about seeing one's doings written down by another person. In my head, things seem a bit chaotic, but reading about them, I see the logic emerge more wholly. It makes me want to say yes to my own life. And that's a very good thing.

melissa-jade gregan said...

what a great idea!! i love that you make time and space work for you, rather than trying and failing to squeeze yourself into tradtional methods. you always inspire me to think outside the box. thank you babe.
ps. i want photos of your parallel play weekend! i hope you have photo time scheduled in!

Kristen said...

i love this. thanks for sharing these inspiring glimpses into your (and Joey's) writing experience!

alisha said...

Thanks! I'm thinking about writing more about the writing life and will definitely get some pics of the retreat going on. :)

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