• Carmen

a western kansas writing retreat

Updated: Jan 23

A month ago, when Jeff informed me that he would be gone for a full five days for work in late November, I informed him that Vivian and I were coming with him 😂 Thankfully, he came up with a better plan.



Vivian was dropped off in the loving arms of her grandparents, Roxy was transported to the other set of grandparents, the cats were supplied with enough food and water for the week, and I joined Jeff for the four and a half hour drive to Garden City.


We're calling this week my writing retreat because I'm going to be spending 8+ hours in a hotel room each day with nothing do except write, nap, and watch Judge Judy. This isn't my first rodeo, so I packed the essentials for a week out west: socks and slippers, beef jerky, mini-Cokes, all the chargers, a Bluetooth speaker, magazines, Chapstick, and trail mix, so I'm ready for anything.


We arrived at our hotel late last night and had to make our first big decision: Should we sleep in the same bed, or take advantage of the luxury of two beds? We chose the first option but celebrated the temporary absence of a wiggling toddler between us, who also happens to be a prolific kicker.


In a hotel room, one has to watch at least some bad television, so we did, spending most of our time on Forensic Files and The Holiday (which made me ponder...whatever happened to Jude Law?) When we finally turned it off, we slept soundly, besides me jolting awake twice, wondering where the baby was and why she wasn't demanding something. Jeff, too, at one point, mumbled something about needing to find a pacifier.


This will pass.


In the morning, after a quick breakfast of bagels and bananas, Jeff jets off to his meetings in another nearby town, speculating that he'll be back around eight. I return to the room and bask in the silence and wonder of not being needed by anyone. Then I get to work. The plan is to write a blog post, put a big dent in my new novel, and work on other tasks that are usually too difficult to start or finish in the presence of a needy little queen. I'm in the zone until my phone buzzes a couple hours later. It's Jeff letting me know that he probably won’t be back until nine.


It's all good, until it dawns on me that I'm not going to eat any real food until he returns. And by real food, I mean something from Applebees. (The restaurant options are limited.)

Not ideal, but c'est la vie. Back to work, until I hit a significant snag and realize that the blog post I've been working on is ten pages long. I gasp.


Ain't nobody got time for that.


I start editing, but my phone buzzes again. Jeff suggests I get an Uber and go to Subway alone, but I decline. The view outside my window is cloudy and ominous, and I've seen enough murder shows to not get inside a car with a stranger in the middle of nowhere. In fact, it's so cold here, and I'm feeling so lazy, that I've resigned myself to eating trail mix all day, every day, until Jeff returns from his meetings. I did pack some V8, so that will be my primary source of fruits and vegetables for the week.


I start writing again, but by now I feel fatigued (after all, I just wrote a ten page blog), so I switch things up and read some Psalms in the Gideons’ Bible. I also watch videos of Vivian eating orange sherbet, but that makes me sad. Jeff texts again a few minutes later. He knows the dangers of a ravenously hungry wife.


"Pizza Hut might deliver to the hotel."


I call them. They laugh out loud.


"No pizza," I text Jeff.


He sends back the poop emoji.


I decide to write again, but when I sit down to do it, I’m resistant. I languish. I get on Facebook, then quickly get off Facebook (because a bunch of people actually think this impeachment nonsense warrants them writing three paragraphs about their hatred for Trump). I shower. I order Christmas presents. I stare at the ceiling, aware that my suspicions about myself are definitely confirmed...


I'm a way better writer when I have no time to write.


Thankfully, as my alone-time dwindles, I manage to get over my resistance and write a blog post, outline my new novel and bust out 15,000 words, a podcast concept, and a long overdue email to a friend. So, not bad. Not bad at all.


And Jeff has just arrived with my sustenance.


The writing retreat is off to a good start!


#nanowrimo #writingretreat #KansasWriters #Kansas #momswhowrite #ChristianWriters