I am lucky to have fellow writer/author and best friend, Linda, who loves road trips as much as I do. This friendship has led to numerous road trips over the last twelve years or so, giving us the opportunity to explore my new homeland and Linda’s home. We have several essential items that we pack or insist upon in our accommodation, a companionable routine for the driving and exploring, as well as the writing, editing and reading portions of our trips.
We do not ride the highways but back roads, trails and secondary highways giving us time to stop and watch wildlife, take in the scenery and explore hamlets and ghost towns. We have been inspired on multiple occasions to create but also to decompress and relax. We have encountered numerous animals, witnessed fabulous scenery and found little known corners of Alberta, Saskatoon and British Columbia.
For the driving portion of our trips, we leave early knowing we will be taking the long way to our destination. This has culminated in more hours added to a trip than maybe we should admit to! (Case in point our last ‘day road trip’ took fifteen hours.)
Our in-car essentials are:
My road trip book to write down the road numbers, towns and counties we travel through and Linda’s map book to mark out the roads we travel. A bird identification book, blankets, emergency kit, shovel, trolley, chargers, camera, sunglasses. Also a bag for trash and water bottles.
Our accommodation requirementsare:
A desk (or two) and two comfortable chairs, a nice view, and a kettle! (I need my tea). Comfortable beds, ample lighting, space to spread out our things and a good shower.
Our trip essentials are:
Lap tables, laptops, notebooks, pens, current writing projects, reading material, chargers, extension cord and power-bar (there are never enough power points), cell phones, camera, back-up drives.
Comfortable clothes (layering is essential), warm socks, jackets, walking shoes/boots, slippers. These change dependent on the time of year of course. Eye glasses and ear plugs, a bottle of wine & snacks, easy meals and tea bags (Okay I’m English teabags are a must!)
Neither of us needs noise so silence reigns unless we are discussing our day or writing projects.
Over the years our routine has evolved into a well oiled machine. We are comfortable in silence and respect each others creativity and time to just create and enjoy the wonders we encounter.
Having time to let our writing Muse gather and cultivate new ideas, allows us to start, progress, or even finish writing projects.
What road trip essentials do you need?
When was your last road trip/ Where did you go? What did you do?
Some of you may know I spent this long weekend at the stupendous Strawberry Creek Lodge with a bevy of inspiring, funny and wonderful writers. I took a prompt exercise for us to consider during our stay. The prompt asked for everyone to chose 3 letters of the alphabet. These corresponded to partial book titles and created ‘new’ titles to work from. I would like to share my two titles and the short stories they inspired me to write. I hope you like them.
Tender is the Fury and Prejudice
Sasha swirled around in her gingham dress, enjoying its flaring circle around her waist. The dress was the first new piece of clothing she ever wore.
“Now Missy, be careful with that there dress. There ain’t another one coming for a long time.”
“Yes, Mamma, I’ll be as careful as careful can be.”
Sasha smiled at her mother, who sat in the rocker breastfeeding the new baby. With a new brother, Sasha was not the baby anymore and would sleep in the big bed with her older brothers and sisters. The new baby made eight in the family and the cabin even more crowded. Sasha sat on a stool letting her dress hang down but mindful it did not touch the floor.
Stomping footsteps announced the return of her brothers and sisters from the cotton field. She ran to the bedroom and took off the dress. Once it was folded and put in the dresser, she returned to the main room.
Her mother stood at the stove lading out bowls of stew and handing each tired child a biscuit. Sasha waited until everyone else was seated before taking a bowl for herself. Her father entered the crowded room and exchanged a weary smile with her mother. Sasha saw him glance at the baby and frown.
“Is it feeding, Annie?”
“Yes, Samuel he is…”
Sasha could not tell what the look on her fathers face meant but she saw a tear run down her mother’s cheek as she turned away from him. With her bowl taken to the washing bowl, Sasha sat beside the bay’s crib and rocked it gently. Her siblings cleared the tables, washed the dishes and exited the cabin leaving their parents to spend time together.
As Sasha soothed her new brother her father whispered words confused her.
“Is it healthy, will it live?”
“There’s no way of knowing, Samuel, maybe he will.”
“Another mouth to feed, its too many, Annie. We need to decide on her future.”
“Oh, Samuel, please don’t – we will manage, we have in the past.”
“I know its a hard decision, Annie but the offer is there and the money would make all the difference.”
“But she’s so young and…”
Her mother’s sob cut her sentence short. Sasha watched her father embrace her mother, rocking her back and forth like her mother did to Sasha when she suffered a nightmare.
Unnoticed in the corner, Sasha tried to make sense of her parents conversation. What was happening to who? Why was her mother so upset?
A week later a fancy carriage pulled up outside the cabin driven by a black man but dressed in white man’s clothing. Sasha had never seen such a thing and fussed to be released from her mothers arms.
“Stand still for one more minute, Sasha.”
“Mamma, why’s that man dressed so fancy?”
“Its cause of his job as a driver for the boss. Now hold still, I’ve one more ribbon to put in.”
Sasha fidgeted until the ribbon was tied then ran to the carriage wide-eyed. She did not see her mother clasp her mouth and hold back pleading words. She turned to Samuel who nodded and opened the cabin door for her to enter.
“Stay inside, it will be easier for the girl to go. Look after the little one.”
Samuel closed the door after his wife and descended the steps to stand beside the carriage and grasp Sasha’s hand.
“Is this the girl you spoke of Samuel?”
“Bring her here so I can see her properly. Does she know how to behave? My wife will not tolerate ill manners.”
“She is a good girl, boss and will learn quickly.”
Samuel picked Sasha up and put her into the carriage. She looked at the beautiful cushions and the bright white suite the white man wore. She was surprised when he turned her around, she thought he liked her gingham sress as much as she did. When the man opened her mouth and inspected her teeth, Sasha looked at her father but stayed silent when his brows lowered and he put on finger to his lips.
“She’s a pretty little thing, I’m hopeful my wife will like her, Samuel.”
The man gave her father a small leather pouch and sat Sasha on the seat beside him.
“Thank you, boss. You be good for the boss, Sasha. Do as you are told and only speak when spoken to.”
Sasha grinned at her father and nodded enthusiastically. I’m going for a ride in this fancy carriage, I’m so lucky. Samuel watched the carriage drive away until it was out of sight. He swallowed deeply several times before entering the cabin.
“She’s gone then, my little Sasha?”
“Yes, Annie, she’s gone.”
“Did she cry?”
“No, she was so excited about the carriage she didn’t turn around. She will cry tonight no doubt when she realizes she is to spend her life at the house but she’ll come around, so don’t fret. It’s a better life for her than the cotton field.”
“I hope so, Samuel, I really do.”
Annie placed her baby boy in his crib and began the supper preparations. Her tears mixed with the vegetable water as she peeled potatoes. She would delay telling Samuel she might be pregnant again. Later as her family ate, she reached out for Sasha’s hand but felt emptiness. She knew the money would help the rest of the family until the oldest ones left home but thoughts of what her little girl might have to endure in the big house haunted her dreams for many months.
To Kill The Windup Bird – this story has been removed as an extended version has been contracted to Steampunk Ink.
Sequester – definition: to remove from use, or withdraw into solitude or retirement : seclude
Withdrawing into our own magical world of words, is most certainly a writer’s dream. Whether we imagine it to be a beach house, a woodland cabin or a study with a lock on the door – having our own solitary space has magical ramifications. We imagine our greatest work revealing itself as we sit in solitude, allowing our muse full reign on our time.
I was fortunate to attend a retreat in February 2012 at Strawberry Creek. With several other members of my writing group in attendance, we managed to revise, edit and write new and existing manuscripts. With the choice of writing alone or in a group, everyone found their comfort zone. Gathering together for meals, which are made for us and evening conversation in front of a roaring fire, it was a perfect sequester from our every day lives.
The plan is to enjoy this retreat again in the spring of 2014. I am so looking forward to it. A long weekend of words and like minded people, what more could you possibly ask for?
Have you been on a retreat?
Was it all you wish it to be?
If you could have your own ‘retreat’ where would it be?
I’ve an even shorter time to finish my NaNoWriMo this year as I am flying off to Palm Springs to visit a good friend and fellow author, Suzanne Burkett, on Wednesday 28th November. So I need to have my word count over the 50,000 before then. It is a race as always but just a smidge more stressful with two days less but I am determined to succeed.
An oasis in many ways.
My visit was booked way back in June so its been a long time coming. It will be a time for exploring, connecting and sharing and I’m sure inspiration will follow. Maybe a novel idea will spring up – LOL I know bad joke. Palm Springs has a very creative and artistic culture that I am excited to see for myself. Getting away from the Albertan cold will be a nice bonus too. Of course I have organised meals for the family in my absence and hopefully they will survive.
Do you ‘abandon’ your family for vacations or retreats ? What is or was your favorite one?