If It Doesn’t Come First…, Part II

Continued from Thursday, October 21 post

Here is the routine I miss:

6:00 AM Wake up

Write in journal




9:00 AM: Sit at desk and write until 1:00 PM

  • Do not check email or phone
  • Do not talk to anyone
  • Do not wash dishes or fold clothes or transition closets from spring/summer to fall/winter or perform any other household task until finished writing for the day

1:00 PM: Shower

Interact with world

I first established this schedule at Hedgebrook, a retreat center for women writers on Whidbey Island, where I spent five weeks the summer of 2004, before leaving the U.S. to pursue a Fulbright project in Oaxaca, Mexico. Each morning, I ran four laps around the path that circled the Hedgebrook cottages and did three rounds of sun salutations in my loft. On clear days, I greeted Mt. Rainier in the distance. Internet access was sparse and available only by dial up in the pump house. While I wrote, the five other writers in residence created in their cottages. Afternoons I spent reading, preparing my “Writing to Heal” curriculum for the workshops I would be teaching in Oaxaca, exploring the library or The Book Bay, a fabulous independent bookstore in town, or walking through the woods near the cottages. Evenings, Rui-Yan, Carol, Maggie, Beth, Princess, and later, Maya and Ly, and I dined together over home-cooked dinners prepared by Jess, the kitchen goddess. (She made her own cheese!) We talked about our work. Once a week we read to each other in the common room.

Though I was ready to move to Mexico, it was hard to leave Hedgebrook. I developed the sense that life there was the way life should be everywhere, that I should always feel so supported and nurtured in my work. (Okay, and sure, it was great having someone cook for me.)

I tried to replicate this life in Oaxaca, but spent the first four months teaching, exploring, making friends, speaking as much Spanish as I (finally!) could. Not writing much in my journal or working on my book. And then screenwriter/film editor and fellow Hedgebrook alum, Carol Dysinger visited from New York. She asked about my writing. I deflected. But she kept coming at me until I confessed.

“Michelle,” she said, “if it doesn’t come first, it will always come last.”

Tune in for Part III on Tuesday, November 2.

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 9:06 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Michelle – very beautiful and right on post! Such good words and description of the day-to-day struggle we have as artists – so many distractions (love your pull to do “closet transition”) and so little time. I also really agree with your friend Carol who said re: your creative work/writing, “if it doesn’t come first, it will always come last.” So true, so true. Keep on writing! Do it first!

    • Thanks for all your support in helping to put it first.

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