Monday, 22 October 2012

Secularization Update

As long time followers of this blog will know, I tend to escape to a convent to write, developing finer plot points with Giant Jesus (awesome listener) and chatting with the dead (stacking nuns in the cemetery).  More than a year ago, the convent was sold to the city which owns the grounds.  I whined about it here and here. Oh, but how I do whine at times.

This time, there was still a distinct lack of space.  I found myself going for meals later and later in an attempt to have a quieter space.  I did make some friends this time, which is lovely, but not the purpose of my trip.  I'm there to write!

Usually, I got up and visit Giant Jesus right away. This time, by the time I'd reached the convent, it was dark and rainy, so I just ran in and started writing and editing.  The next day was also cold and windy, and every inch of the covent felt so... packed.  Everyone was everywhere.  I rarely need my space so badly, but this time I felt absolutely smothered.

And I wasn't the only one.  Breakfast on the first day, a lovely petite Italian woman, looking anxiety-ridden, asked if she could sit with me.  I was sitting alone at a table for two, eating as quickly as possible to get out of the crowded area.  She felt it, too, the noise and movement of the room.  I stayed to chat with her - she obviously needed to just chat with one person who wouldn't judge or direct the conversation.  I let her go, and eventually we learned that not only do we share the same name, we were both writers.

So that morning just wasn't a good morning for writers with my name.

I headed back to the room and hid a lot. And I mean, a lot.  I hid deeper than just the room, too - I hid in my writing. I threw on my earphones and just wrote and wrote and edited.  I love the story I'm working on, the final volume of the Destiny series, so it was easy to lose myself in it.  I was late for meals, forgetting to check the time.

And I loved every minute.

I didn't even go for a walk until Sunday evening, before supper, when I felt I should really go say hi to Giant Jesus.  I was being downright rude!  The wind stole every sound away, ensconcing me in my thoughts.  Most of the weekend group retreats broke after lunch on Sunday, so the convent was mostly empty.

I chatted with Giant Jesus and walked the cemetery.  The trees were dancing in the orchard and I danced with them.

Supper last night was wonderful.  There was only one other table, filled with older ladies and gentlemen, and they were downright couth with they volume level. I could hear the classical music filtering in and I even took the time to do some plotting as I ate dessert, instead of just running back to my room.

Adapting to the new structure of the convent is teaching me a lot about myself. I realized this weekend (when I wasn't busy blowing ships up in my story) that yes, I'm an extrovert, but I need my introvert moments.  And when I need them, I need them badly.  I can get flustered in a social situation when I don't want to be in a crowd.  The reverse applies, as well. The last time I went to the convent, I wasn't ready to be by myself, and I came home early.  I know my own motions, and I need to respect my psyche, no matter how unstable it may at times seem.  (We're going to do what now?)

I like the loneliness of the cemetery and Giant Jesus.  Secularites (totally a word!) seem to fear them, as though the symbol of a religion will somehow gobble them up.  I'm not religious, but I enjoy talking to giant statues about finer plot points.  It helps - try it!

On the writing front, I learned that I'm turning into a giant wuss.  I mean, not in the writing itself, I still destroy, maim and kill at random. But I cry a lot more.  I had a downright sob-fest yesterday killing off a minor character, but one that had been there since book 1 (spoiler: everybody dies! HA!)  I don't do sob-fests well, either.  I get all splotchy and leaky.  Really unbecoming.  But I guess that's why I lock myself up in a convent to have them.

For now, I've made peace with the no-longer-convent-convent.  I'm learning to follow its lead, while imposing my own peace.  It's all about production in the end, and as long as I have earphones, a plug and a space to think, I'll be productive.  We'll see how I feel when I go back in spring.

I leave you with this lovely view from my window:

Not that I generally take the time to enjoy the view, but when I do, wow. Like, seriously, wow.