It’s the final night of my writing retreat. The room has become familiar, and the view of the dense pine hillside across the valley, where an A-line cabin gleams every evening at sunset with blinding intensity, a fierce cross of golden light with striated edges tapering on the ends like the tip of a knife. The acoustics are strange; I pass the time making guesses about which direction an approaching car will be taking when it moves through my field of view on the street below.
The girls down at the cafe see my notebook and ask what I’m working on. One of them lights up when I tell her I’m a writer. So am I, she says, and after that she circles my table quietly and keeps my coffee cup filled.
This is not like some of the other retreats I’ve taken. Drew planned it, for one thing, and when I spoke with him the other night he apologized for describing the many ways in which my previous coworkers have thrown me under the bus since I left: I shouldn’t have told you, you don’t need all that negative shit right now. Get back to work. My mom left a message, but didn’t ask me to return her call: You’re working, don’t worry about it.
Strange how things have changed. My successful agent hunt has brought me more than a partner on the business end of writing, more than an ally in helping me produce my best work. The revisions, the focus and intensity make me feel professional about my writing, as though I’m here on a business trip. I sense a new-found respect from my husband, who has been reading the articles on publishing I send him, who is interested in the conversations I’ve had with my agent regarding further plot development and possible avenues to publication. The odds I’ve just beaten are becoming clear to all of us, and as we near the point where my book will sell or will not (oh please, Mr. Kleinman), the people around me seem to be hovering, waiting to see what will become of all this work.
But I’ve gone away again, back into the story. The words and ideas, the plot, the characters . . . all are as they have been. They’re still mine, they’ve been waiting for me. I wrote a long new scene today and thought, yes indeed, there is more to be discovered here.
Tomorrow I’ll be home again.
What do you know about your work?