Although Kim, Belinda, and I had seen one another separately over the years, we hadn’t all been together in the nearly ten years since we studied writing in grad school. Belinda’s home, a renovated barn (more emphasis on renovated, less emphasis on barn) sits beyond a gated entrance, atop a bluff on the road to Pfeiffer Beach. Even though I have lived in California for most of my life, I had never been to Big Sur. Kim and I drove the dark switchbacks at night, it’s not easy to get to, you go there on purpose. Ours was a writing reunion.
I’m between writing routines. I have goals for this month like finishing NaNoWriMo and the November Poem a Day Chapbook challenge, but I have outgrown my previous work pattern. Isn’t it as simple as just sitting down, picking up a pencil, and writing? Yes and it’s also about staying present on the page. I’ve had many happy times in the last month away from writing and I needed to write my way back into my work.
And Kim settled in to a reading nook in an octagonal window and Belinda wrote in her studio downstairs. I put myself on a social media fast. My cell phone reception cooperated, dropped to one bar in this remote location, forcing me to work nearly distraction free. Even Mother Nature helped by socking us in with fog on the first couple of days. Between long stretches of quiet keystrokes, flipping pages, silence — we met for meals, took turns cooking, checked in, even sometimes sharing snippets of what we’ve written. (Belinda’s blog post, Kim’s blog post.) There is magic in measured doses of writers working in close proximity.
For the last three days or so, I have written at the kitchen table with my back turned to the view of the majestic south coastline and instead, faced three empty wooden chairs, more notebooks, books, and pens than I needed, sprawled about coffee mug height across a white cotton tablecloth bursting with cheery apples. I want to go far, when was I going to learn to carry less? I wrote, started and finished new poems, drafted a monologue for a new show, and caught up on my NaNoWriMo word count.
Mother Nature couldn’t help herself, each day, she gave us a little more sun, less fog, and the views stretched further. We even snuck out for a closer look yesterday but quickly returned to the table, the nook, the studio. And this morning, as Kim and I prepare to leave, it’s the heaviest of foggy days. Rain plops on the roof of the barn, I can barely see to the edge of Belinda’s property. Thank you, Belinda, Kim, and Big Sur for these lovely days and now I must go back into the world and find my way again.