Rosslyn in the Desert

Frosty Morning in Abiquiu, New Mexico

Frosty Morning in Abiquiu, New Mexico (Photo credit: Princess Stand in the Rain)

As of tomorrow I’m at the halfway point for my desert retreat in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Eleven days in; eleven days to go. That’s 12+ hours/day, six days a week editing, revising, shuffling and rewriting. In silence. Without interruptions or distractions. Without internet access. Without excuses!

It’s been a productive stretch despite the fact that my manuscript is still bloated and desperate for a liposuction/stomach staple two-for-one… But I’ve discovered the heart and soul of my story, and the next two weeks I’ll perform ruthless, unsentimental surgery, cutting away all nonessential narrative. With luck and endurance I’ll return from the desert at month’s end with a svelte memoir.

I spent the first week focusing on the most enjoyable sections, and last week I dug into the darker sections. Death, depression, failures, violations. It was a tough week. A proverbial roller coaster ride. More like a bucking bronco ride. I’m feeling whiplashed and bruised today, but licking my wounds in Santa Fe.

Each Saturday I’ve driven two hours from the Chama canyonlands to the city where I lived from 1996-9. I re-provision, de-soil my laundry and pig out on delicious New Mexican food. And after a week without telephone or internet access, I spend hours on the phone with my amazing bride. My generous, understanding bride who’s tolerating my time at the hermitage. I offer my deepest gratitude to this woman who transformed my world over a decade ago, the woman who’s allowing me to share our sometimes beautiful, sometimes disturbing and always intimate story.

Thanks also to the Benedictines for use of their handsome hermitage and to my colleagues at The Depot Theatre and Champlain Area Trails for letting me vanish for sooooo long. The last couple of weeks have reminded how much I love Scrivener, so thanks to the good folks at Literature and Latte for simplifying my work on Rosslyn Redux. And thanks to all of you who’ve encouraged and pushed me. Now it’s time to jump in my jalopy and head back to the desert for another productive week. Cheers!

13 Comments to “Rosslyn in the Desert”

  1. Kathleen Pooler says:

    George , You certainly have captured the ” agony and ecstasy” of memoir writing! What a gift to go off into the desert to find the heart and soul of your story with no distractions. Yes, your bride is amazing to be so supportive of your passion to get your story out. I anxiously await your “svelte”memoir :-)

  2. George, thanks for sharing your writing journey, tremendous progress, and retreat with us. I love it that you’ve discovered the heart and soul of your story. Cheering you on all the way.

    -Mia

    P.S. In an unexpected turn of events, I will be returning to Italy this summer for another Writing Immersion Retreat in Tuscany. I will be working on my Morning Sun (and performing ruthless edits, too).

  3. virtualDavis says:

    Greetings, Mia. Thanks for sharing your good news. A second installment of your glorious Writing Immersion Retreat in Tuscany? What good fortune! Congratulations. And thanks for cheering me on. You and a canyon full of coyotes… Quite a chorus. :-)

  4. virtualDavis says:

    A gift indeed, Kathy. I don’t deserve this gift, but I’m doing my best to take advantage of the solitude, the quiet, the focus and the profoundly positive vibe of the abbey, the canyon, the Chama which rolls past my hermitage. Thanks for your encouragement and for recognizing what a whopping contribution (and sacrifice) my bride has made. Is making. Another gift I will never deserve, but try to serve. :-)

  5. […] graced with one more week writing with Benedictines and coyotes in a desert canyon. What a life! It’s hard to believe that almost three weeks have already […]

  6. Shell says:

    Hard to explain, really…but I am so moved by this journey of yours, Geo. And it’s not that I know it, the details of it, I don’t. Just a feeling that has stuck with me. I feel your devotion to this story. And in turn, it makes me sit back, and patiently wait for all your words to fall into place. No doubt they will, beautifully. 
    shell   

  7. karlsprague says:

    George, you continue to be a man of action – even when it comes to solitude and focus. People dream of going zip-lining in the rainforest, or enjoying a drink at sunset on the beach – and you’ve been there, done that, in the last year alone. As a writer, we all consider the journey into solitude to focus on our craft – and again, you go do it, while the rest of us sit and daydream. I can’t wait to read the finished product, and hearing stories of the journey along the way.

  8. virtualDavis says:

    The “agony and ecstasy” indeed! Sorry for my slow response, just now returning to my desk and beloved internet connection… A gift it was, from my bride and the Benedictines. Time to show my gratitude with a memoir. Or three!

    What news on your end? Memoir progress? Your story/ies continue to vibrate in my memory, Kathy.

  9. virtualDavis says:

    Returning to Tuscany for another writing retreat this summer? Mia you live a charmed life! Good luck to you as you prepare for a productive leap forward with the Morning Sun. Many of us standing by, waiting to plunge into Vietnam with you.

    Thanks for your encouragement and support on Rosslyn Redux. Still plenty of work to be done in the coming months, but my desert writing “boot camp” was a game changer in so many ways. My single most productive writing/revising block ever, the scope/map/limits of Rosslyn Redux defined, and 1/3+ into *almost* final format… Fingers crossed and soldiering forward.

  10. virtualDavis says:

    Thanks for joining me on my journey, Shell. Again and again. And thanks for your patience! I never could have imagined how much patience I was asking of everyone… This has proven to be a much longer and more involved adventure than I had anticipated at the outset. In fact, the quest to tell the story of Rosslyn’s renovation and our life transformation has paralleled the actual Rosslyn Redux pattern in uncanny and persistent ways. At last the “big picture” coalesced while I was ranting away in my desert hermitage. I discovered that I’ve been resisting two major components of our unconventional story, trying to squeeze it into a conventional package. It didn’t fit. It doesn’t fit. It will never fit. And this — more than anything else — is what makes it unique and compelling. So say I, the humble chronicler… ;-) I hope you’ll indulge me a short while longer. It’s getting close!

  11. virtualDavis says:

    Karl, your confidence and cheer leading remain instrumental in my progress. Thank you! What a gracious and upbeat comment. Your staple. I’m grateful for your optimism-tinted spectacles, though I admit you imagine me a far grander adventurer than I am. Don’t stop! :-)

  12. KathyPooler says:

     Good to hear from you George! Yes, it’s time to get those memoirs cranked out. I’m still aiming to complete my first draft this year. Wrestling with social media distractions. A month in the desert sounds appealing right now!

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