A Gift from the Writing Gods: The Emergency Writing Cave

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I am writing my book.

I have been writing my book for months and months.

My book—the first draft—is due November 1.

I’ve tried to make it easier on myself this time around… I can’t tell you that’s working. Why? BECAUSE NO BOOK IS EASY TO WRITE WHAT WAS I THINKING.

I went away and hid in the woods.

I came back home and had setbacks.

I kept a lot of things offline because I don’t think you need to know any of it.

I had good moments with the book, too. And I believe in it.

But my deadline is fast approaching and I desperately needed a cave to escape to.

Then E—who was witnessing all of this—made a suggestion. I took a chance and asked for something.

And the answer came back a YES.

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I’m about to leave on a last-minute two-week what they call “emergency” residency at the MacDowell Colony. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for the time.

The first time I visited the MacDowell Colony, I had not yet published any books. I was so horrifically shy, I couldn’t even look Michael Chabon in the eyes because I admired his writing too much. (He was then a writer in residence; now he’s chairman of the board of directors.) I stayed in a composer’s studio with a chandelier. I wrote pages of a book that never ended up being published and my heart was about to be broken over it, but I didn’t know that yet.

Fast forward years.

The second time I visited the MacDowell Colony, it was winter, months before Imaginary Girls came out. I was about to publish the book of my heart, and I was terrified, and I had every right to be. I stayed in a little fairy-tale cabin with a green door. I came out of my shell a little, made a fool of myself attempting to play pool, and made some wonderful friends. I wrote pages of a book that was published earlier this year.

Now I’ll have the opportunity to be at MacDowell for a third time, at the exact perfect moment, and I can’t even believe it.

I love the place so much, and I am so amazed and touched that they came through for me and gave me this emergency residency, that I am fully expecting to be writing the MacDowell Colony into my will. Let’s hope I become more successful so I can afford to leave them more than a piece of IKEA furniture.

I leave at 4:45 in the morning on Monday for the bus. There is no internet in the studios, so I will be mostly offline while I’m away. I will go to the library to check email once a day most likely, but I may not be replying to emails unless they are urgent.

I am going to immerse myself in this book like you’ve never seen. Oh, many of you are writers. I am sure you have seen. So you know what’s awaiting me.

I may just build a writing tent.

If you want to snail-mail me a good-luck, happy-writing letter or postcard while I am away, email me this weekend for the mailing address. I might send you a MacDowell Colony happy-writing-right-back-at-you postcard in thanks.

I will be back home in action in the corner of the local café on September 25. Until then.

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