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Fiction, My Novel, The Writer's Life

“Retreat, Harried One!” Said the Fiction Man*

I am sitting in our condo in Victoria, British Columbia, typing away madly on my latest crazy idea for a novel. I am on retreat—the entire month of June away from the responsibilities, inconsistencies and insanities of my regular life, a chance to refocus, to reprioritize and put my writing first again—as it used to be, as it should be.

This is a retreat of my own design, because no real retreat would accept me. I applied to a few, but nada. Anyway, did I really need to escape to some touchy feely goat preserve/arts and crafts commune so I could rub flannel elbows with dreamy-eyed literati? That just ain’t me.

This is nicer anyway, an inspiring view from sixth floor luxury in one of the most livable cities I’ve ever visited.

When I first started writing seriously, I’d spend upwards of six to eight hours a day jamming out text, as much as 3,000 words in a day. Granted they weren’t necessarily good words, but it was great being able to focus for extended periods.

Lately, though, I’m lucky if I get six to eight hours a week to write. Too many commitments and requirements. I must blog, tweet, and otherwise promote. I’m in two writers groups and helping start a third. The Book Review section at LA Review has expanded and we’ve added an online component, and I must work it every day. I’m coordinating a writing contest for my alumni organization. Oh, and then there’s my paying job and time with my wife…

I don’t mean to complain—I know most of you have similar situations. And I’m incredibly lucky to be able to take this kind of time and have this kind of place to go. I’ll blog over the next few weeks about my progress (if any), and this great city.

Wish me luck.


*Apologies to Harlan Ellison for riffing on his famous story title, “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman.


About Joe Ponepinto

Co-publisher, with Kelly Davio, of Tahoma Literary Review. Author of "Curtain Calls," a featured Kirkus Review. Married to Dona. Dad to Henry, the coffee-drinkin' dog.


17 thoughts on ““Retreat, Harried One!” Said the Fiction Man*

  1. Good luck!

    Posted by Darrelyn Saloom | June 2, 2012, 1:51 PM
  2. venting more than complaining
    and as you put the words out there you could feel them
    floating away on the wind( comlaining would have stayed there like a noose,
    vent aloud airflow) (just a thought)
    now you have cleared the space, enjoy the magick of creating
    I would love to have a month off
    Take care

    Posted by LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words | June 2, 2012, 3:04 PM
  3. “some touchy feely goat preserve/arts and crafts commune”
    Hilarious. Maybe other writers have poisoned the well for me, but I’ve always had the impression that those writers retreats were for A) shared alcoholism, and B) extra-marital affairs.

    Posted by arichaley | June 2, 2012, 3:38 PM
    • Don’t know about the extra-marital affairs, but I don’t need a “real” retreat to do a little drinking–I am a writer after all.

      Posted by jpon | June 2, 2012, 6:25 PM
  4. I would do that. I should do that. But sadly, my lack of discipline would follow me, tighter than my grip on my laptop as I boarded the plane. And i scarcely drink. And an extra-marital affair with a goat holds less appeal than you might imagine. Alpacas are a whole other thing…
    Write pounds of words, Joe. And enjoy. (Sightseeing, in moderation is not evil and may reduce a certain sort of stress.)

    Posted by Jon Zech | June 2, 2012, 5:06 PM
    • I had the same fear myself, Jon. But despite the surroundings, the fact that it’s just me, here, with the laptop, has already started me percolating. (The 3 cups of coffee might have had something to do with it too.) I read an entire novel on the trip here, have come up with a couple of story ideas, and rewritten the first two chapters of the possible new novel. Time to get back to it!

      Posted by jpon | June 2, 2012, 6:28 PM
  5. You can’t bend the wind. Just relax and things will proceed naturally. Yesterday, I wrote a paragraph, a good paragraph with the imagery that I wanted. Later, in the twilight zone before sleep, the whole story unfurled in my mind. My friend Desiree Cooper wrote in an essay that “you’re writing even when you are not writing.” I’m sure that you’ll come back refreshed and reenergied. Good luck.
    BTW, thanks for your referral to the “genre” group. I had a blast with them, all talented writiers with a fabulous sense of humor. Also the New Yorker has a science fiction issue for the combined June 4&11 issue. Well worth getting.

    Posted by nadiaibrashi | June 2, 2012, 7:34 PM
    • Thanks, Nadia. I feel the resistance slowly fading. Ideas are working their way to the surface.

      Posted by jpon | June 2, 2012, 7:43 PM
  6. Congratulations on contriving a month’s retreat for yourself. I have a little cabin in the woods where I sometimes hide out to write. The trouble is I have no electricity there (or plumbing), and the laptop battery doesn’t last a weekend. I’m trying to figure out a battery arrangement that will extend it. In the meantime, I have resorted to paper and pencil. Old school!

    Anyway, best wishes and much success!

    Posted by Paul Lamb | June 2, 2012, 7:40 PM
  7. The condo sounds lovely, and you’ll have plenty to do when you need to get out and stretch your legs. Hopefully there’s a pub or coffee shop nearby for go-go juice.

    Enjoy, my friend, and good luck!

    Posted by Averil Dean | June 3, 2012, 11:12 PM
  8. I’m wishing you luck and hopping (hopefully!) on the same wagon, Joe. Here’s to production.

    Funny, these books never do write themselves.

    Posted by Teri | June 5, 2012, 4:23 PM
  9. This is the sound of envy (at least for the month of June… condo, BC, just writing? Sounds awesome. As it is, I\\’m thinking of putting off mowing the grass another week!!).

    Good luck and pleasure to meet you!

    p.s. sorry if you got multiple requests for this comment, WP acting very strange in this early morning hour.

    Posted by Steven Lee Gilbert (@SLeeGilbert) | June 22, 2012, 7:23 AM

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