My Personal Writer’s Retreat

Once a year I fly down to Tucson, Arizona, to visit my best friend, Chris. She is well acquainted with a couple who spend part of every year in Italy, and who graciously allow me to stay at their house while I’m visiting. Most days of my week-long stay, I spend the morning writing, doing research, and generally tending to the business of being a writer. The rest of the time, Chris and I walk, visit places like the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum (where we see folks like this Mexican gray wolf), and eat and drink to excess. And we talk. We talk a lot.

Chris is  a great sounding board for my ideas and plot lines. She has a good understanding of human nature (she has a master’s degree in psychology), and sometimes keeps me from veering off in the wrong direction. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and to do reality checks for me is a pretty wonderful thing for a writer.

Having a week of undistracted, uninterrupted writing is a pretty wonderful thing, as well. When I’m home, I am likely to have cats on the keyboard, dirty dishes or laundry that won’t shut up and leave me alone, and a thousand other distractions great and small. When I’m home, I sometimes find I have to remove myself to the pubic library or a coffee shop to really focus and get things done. When I had to take a friend to the doctor’s office, I got an amazing amount written sitting in the waiting room. I doubt they’ll let me camp there on a regular basis to write, but it goes to show that writing can be done anyplace, if there are few enough distractions. And some days, writing at home just rolls and everything that might seduce me away from my keyboard falls away.

I like my visits every year to see Chris, but I’m not a real fan of deserts. I can appreciate the beauty of them, especially when seen through the eyes of someone who lives there, but I prefer the woodlands of the midwest. Still, there are some beautiful things in Arizona. Not least of these are the clear, cool nights when millions are stars are visible in the sky. As a place to visit a friend, write, and soak up the food and culture (we saw a pretty great chamber music concert on Wednesday), I think Tucson will stay on my list of best places to work at writing.