On Retreat with Pip

Originally Posted: July 15, 2010

Mood: frustrated, grateful?

Up here in Maine, on Peak’s Island, taking a week to read and write, to work on the next book and try to stop thinking so damn much about the book that’s coming out in 12 days…

I had it all figured out: I’d get myself focused again, do scads of research and basically crank out the first 50 pages of my new novel.  Or, at the very least, I’d log in 500 words a day and take a few walks.

Except…  I couldn’t stop thinking about the novel that’s about to appear in bookstores at month’s end (will it do ok?  Will it prosper or flop?  Do other writers concern themselves with such worldly nonsense?)…

And as if my head wasn’t muddled enough, I got a wretched cold on day #2.  And then the rain set in…

Add to this scenario my Australian Shepherd, Pip, who seems to think this vacation is all about her, and requires a minimum of 4 walks a day in this lovely island setting.  I walk her for an hour in the morning, another in the evening. It’s great, actually–a perfect excuse to get away from the agony of my thoughts, leave the computer screen and see some scenery.  But Pip wants a walk at 10:45, too, and another at noon…  She whines and scratches at my leg, stares at her leash dolefully, places her ball in my lap.  Then comes up close and breathes humidly in my face as I’m trying to compose.  When I ignore all these pleas, she barks once, sharply, as if to say, How can you just Sit there like an idiot?  So out we go again.

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten a whole lot of writing done. But Pip and I have explored this island, front to back to sideways–the harbor and the backshore, the two short sandy beaches where the children play, the half acre clusters of woods where horse flies rush at us like kids at an ice cream truck.  We’ve seen Whale Rock and Davey’s cove, the World War II bunkers and the marshes swollen with cattails, the quaint side streets lined with shingled cottages, the more stately 4-season residences with their sweeping lawns and harbor views.  It’s a shame, really, that my novel isn’t set here; at least then I could claim to be doing research.

So, ok.  It hasn’t been such a prolific week.  But I’ve logged in my 500 words, between outings.  I’ve read a few pages. I’ve sworn to keep on plugging away.  Besides, the dog has kept me from taking myself too seriously, which as writers we are always in danger of.  Just as I am really hungering after some slice of brilliance, some little piece of posterity, she places that ball on my knee, looks at me with those toddler eyes, as if to say, Why so serious, Dor?  It’s true–I often forget how to play.  I often forget that unless I’m having a good time, the reader certainly won’t.

And the walks themselves have been productive, in a way. Brenda Ueland used to take a six mile walk every day as part of her writing routine, just to allow her brain time to ‘moodle,’ as she called it.  Just to allow her thoughts to center and spin, her creativity to blossom.  Or maybe she just had a dog like Pip.  Uh oh–here she is at my knee again, staring at me with those eyes.  time to go out…

Posted by: Dori

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  One thought on “On Retreat with Pip

  1. September 29, 2022 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks for this blog posst

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