Sonia and I live in an open plan live/work space. We work downstairs and live upstairs. It’s a nice separation of live and work, but as expected, the lines are always blurred. For instance, I’m writing this post from my writing desk upstairs. I put the writing desk upstairs, so that if Sonia is on a conference call and I need quiet, I can be up here, and vice versa if I’m hammering up a storm and she’s trying to write, she can sneak up here.
We both wear many hats in our work. I make jewelry, do freelance photography / website building / social media work, as well as paint and write. But lately, I’ve been having trouble on the writing side. Whenever I sit down to write, instead I remember all of the other things that I need to do. Around the holidays, Sonia and I decided that we would plan a short writing retreat. We decided to find an Airbnb somewhere close in Taos or Abiquiu, and go for a few days and write. We would clear our schedules of our other work, and allow ourselves some more focused time away. A working vacation of sorts.
We decided on Abiquiú. It’s an hour drive from Santa Fe, so it’s easy to get to. It’s beautiful and quiet. There are a lot of hiking trails (Ghost Ranch is here), but no night life. Though we love Taos, we thought we’d be a bit more distracted there, since it’s a lot bigger. So we bought groceries for the week, packed up the car and headed out to Abiquiú.
We love Abiquiú. We often just go for a day hike, and in December we rented a place with my mom for two nights just outside of town. You can read all about that trip here.
For this trip we found an Airbnb right in the village of Abiquiú. Just past the church, down a dirt road and up a steep dirt driveway we found our little house for the week. From the outside it seemed a bit boxy, with few windows. Inside we found a lot of small rooms that made a very cozy little house. There was a little courtyard, with high walls that offered big interior windows. And with a few skylights, the light inside was actually very nice. There was a giant kitchen table and a big desk in an adjoining room, so we found there was plenty of room for both of us to work.
Sonia is in the middle of her writing project, so for her it’s been a struggle to find enough time to dedicate to it. I’m trying to start a large writing project, but I just find that I have so many distractions that I keep changing my mind and tearing up drafts. (not literally since they are all on my laptop). My goal for our short time was to find a beginning and stick with it, so that I could keep going once I got back to Santa Fe.
It took a while. But sometimes just allowing yourself time to think about things is the only way to get started. I would wake up and write, get frustrated, go for a walk. Repeat. Something about getting out of your comfort zone, being out of the everyday, really helps me to clear my head and focus. I even found that I was dreaming up some of the things in my project while I slept.
I brought my camera with me on this trip, but didn’t take very many pictures, since I wanted to focus mostly on writing. But I always like to have a few moments visually recorded, so here are some night time shots that I took from the front of the house that we stayed in.
On Thursday we did not want to go home. Our conversations consisted of: can we live in Abiquiú? can we move there when Sonia is writing full time? can we buy a house and fix it up, etc.
We wrote for a couple of hours and then packed up to go. On our way out of town we finally got to try the new coffee shop and bakery that just opened, called Flourchilds. They are only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so they’d been closed the other times we’ve visited. We got good coffees and I got a cookie for the road. Sadly there was not much in the way of gluten free treats for Sonia, but otherwise a great space and we will definitely go back.
We both wanted to go for a walk before heading back to Santa Fe, so we stopped at a trail head we’d never been to before (and I don’t remember what it’s called). In the sun it was warm, the first time we’d been really comfortable without coats in months. We walked in the arroyo for a while before heading back. I love how the layers of rock are visible in the soft earth.
Back in Santa Fe, I’m still having a hard time carving out time for writing, but hey practice makes it easier. So I’ll get there.
Do you have any places that you like to go to for a retreat? And strategies for writing? (right now my goal is just do it…)