This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting Away to Work on the Book

            About this time last year, I posted a piece about getting away from it all to do book revisions. I had just returned from a week in Point Reyes, northwest of San Francisco, where I had been editing my second mystery novel, Wash Her Guilt Away. The concentrated effort, in an environment apart from the usual distractions, was highly beneficial, I wrote at the time.
            And I said then that I’d do it again for the next book, which I’ve just done. My third Quill Gordon mystery, Not Death, But Love, is about to go to my editor, Lauren Wilkins, for a final look, but I had to get the early-draft kinks out of it before she sees it. Ergo, another week in Point Reyes.
            For those unfamiliar with the area, Point Reyes Station is a town of about 350 people near the Point Reyes National Seashore. For my purposes, the town is just right for this sort of working getaway. What makes it so? Well, there are several factors.

What’s Your Environment?

            Probably I should begin by saying that’s a personal question. Different writers need different work spaces for this sort of thing. Some would be quite happy in a basement office in central Manhattan. Others would consider Point Reyes too cosmopolitan and distracting.
            Point Reyes Station is just right for me as a working base. It has a grocery store and hardware store where you can pick up just about anything you might have forgotten to bring from home. It has an Auto Club-approved garage (more on that later), three nice restaurants, a good coffee shop, and an excellent bakery. It also has a number of boutiques with lovely merchandise (good for gifts to take home) and a sweet little bookstore, where I bought three books.
            In short, just enough to provide a bit of a diversion when needed, but not so much as to be a distraction. That works for me. I need to be able to get away from the work a bit, and a short visit to town for a latte and a stroll-through in a couple of shops is just the ticket.

At the Edge of the Marsh

            Home for the week was a little cottage behind a house about a mile out of town. It had a small kitchen area, a living area with room to set up a folding table I brought along, and a nook to the side that housed a queen bed and a bathroom with a decent-sized shower. There was an enclosed outdoor patio, where I worked a couple of sunny afternoons, and the main window looked out on a yard full of sheep behind a fence.
            The property backs onto a marsh, which offers a great deal of solitude. Perhaps in the summer it’s an insect factory, but in early February, that wasn’t an issue. It was a good, quiet place to work, and I got a lot done.
            But I didn’t quite finish. The last morning, I was going to head into town for a pastry, but the car wouldn’t start. The garage sent out a truck to get me jumped, and I had to take the car to a Ford dealer in Petaluma, 35 miles away, to have it looked at. It turned out a battery cell was shot, and a replacement battery was installed under warranty. It took six and a half hours, and kept me from making the final changes on the last chapter. No harm, no foul. I finished the work when I got home, and the drive to Petaluma took me on a beautiful road I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.