distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Writers Colony Week 2: More Books, Libraries, Private Property, Why, Real Life, Pages, and Stairways

More Books
It’s been a long time since I’ve read like I’ve been reading here at the writers colony. I’ve been reading quickly, and in bits, usually midday while I take a break for lunch, and sometimes around midnight to get myself sleepy enough to close my eyes and drift off. I never read so much at home; I think I feel guilty about it. Here, I feel no guilt. As I confessed below, I took eight books and eight books only in my suitcase. Since my last writing I’ve read five. Six if you include the dud—there is one book I’ve tried to read, twice now, and can’t get through it, I’m sorry, I’m giving up.

I joined the local library, just for the month. There, I found myself drifting to the YA section. I found myself near the S shelf. I found myself looking idly for I-don’t-know-what. Then I saw it. DANI NOIR. The idea of some girl in Saratoga Springs picking out this book to read out of all other books to read gave me a thrill. I left it where it was and didn’t tell the librarian who’d just given me my new, shiny library card that it was mine.

Private Property
I sometimes take my notebook to the gardens, which are open to the public. On the way back up there are signs that say it’s private property past this spot. One day I started climbing the hill and walked on the lawn past the signs. I saw a couple below me. They looked up and watched me go. It seemed, for a moment, that they wanted to call out to me, “You’re not allowed up there! That’s for the artists!” To warn me. But I kept going and they decided not to yell. Maybe it seemed like I was allowed to be here after all.

Why come to a writers colony? To be alone with your work. To face it. No, really, to FACE IT. To have time for it, more time than maybe you even wanted. To struggle with it with hours to go till dinner and no one to keep you from it but yourself. To be taken care of. To look around and think, How is it that I’m worthy of being taken care of? But also: To be with others who are doing the same. To connect. To absorb. To enjoy it. To savor it. To make the most of it. To do here what you can do nowhere else.

Real Life

When I realized I had just three weeks left here I began to pick up speed, even more so when I began to approach the mark of two weeks. I feel a sense of urgency. In real life, I have distractions. In real life, I have constant access to you, the internet. In real life, I will have freelance projects. In real life, I’ll have hard and fast writing deadlines—I am thinking of one in particular. In real life, I have responsibilities. Here, I have none. But it’s itching at me. Real life. Some days I forget.

I don’t know what it is about this place, but there’s something. Something is definitely here. Why else would I somehow, in a fit of energy, start typing on a Friday morning and look back on a Friday afternoon and realize I wrote 16 pages in one day? I’ve never written that much of a first draft in one day in my whole life.

I have two choices of getting upstairs to my rooms: (A) a wide white staircase rising up before a beautiful stained-glass window or (B) a narrow, dark, twisting staircase that I think was for the household help to use. Guess which staircase I always use?


9 responses to “Writers Colony Week 2: More Books, Libraries, Private Property, Why, Real Life, Pages, and Stairways”

  1. I’d be taking the back stairs, too! I’m so thrilled that you are doing this and it sounds like it’s a marvelous thing for you!

  2. I would try out both staircases and imagine different scenarios for each one.

    I belong to that library and go there every Wednesday morning with my son, and I have picked up that same book from the YA shelves and taken it home and loved it! I am glad to know more is coming, because I’ve learned a lot about voice from you already.

    Now, I should probably let you get back to writing…

    Vicki Tremper (www.vbtremper.wordpress.com)

  3. Sixteen pages. I still can’t get over it. I feel like such a slacker (especially since I got up at 10:30 and am now, at 11:15, reading your blog instead of working).

    And you didn’t tell me you found Dani Noir at the library!! That’s awesome!!!

  4. I’ve resisted commenting on the other post, if only to honor your island of solitude. But one thing here (well, many things, actually) warranted a comment.

    What a rare gift to forget about real life. I’d say that’s the point, maybe?

  5. Next time you go to a writer’s colony, I want to come with you. It just sounds so perfect! I will make myself useful and everything. I can make coffee! And cake!

  6. I am loving these updates. I know you are supposed to be isolated, which is why I resisted commenting on last week’s post… But…. oh! It sounds so wonderful.

    Nova, you have inspired me to look into this for myself. They take international people! I am thinking of doing this quite seriously, though I wonder if I will ever be good enough to be accepted. I may email you about it when you return (after giving you PLENTY of time to catch up *g*).

    I’m happy you’re doing so well, there. You are learning and growing… and WRITING. 🙂

  7. I love experiencing a writer’s colony vicariously through your lovely updates. It sounds like heaven. And 16 pages?! Amazing!

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