I’m doing something I’ve long dreamed of doing this winter. I feel a little guilty about it, in fact, since it’s so cool and fun and I wish everyone had this opportunity. I’m taking a short sabbatical, a brief pause in my work life to recharge.
I don’t just love it because it’s a vacation or time off. It’s not. I’m using this time in a way that artists have used these pockets of time for centuries. William Wordsworth has his time at Dove Cottage in the Lake District where he hung out with buddies like Samuel Taylor Coleridge to talk about writing and share their ideas on their work. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley had her summer in Switzerland with poets Percy Shelley and Lord Byron in which to germinate the idea for Frankenstein. Henry David Thoreau took off to Walden Pond to come up with his most famous work. Similarly, one of the father’s of modern psychiatry, C. G. Jung retreated from the world to build the Tower in Bollingen and contemplate his complex theories.
Lofty inspiration for my sabbatical, right? But I’ve always read about those kinds of artistic immersions with envy, wishing I could find time to devote more focus to studying craft without the expectation to produce anything. Of course, I’m also open to listening to my Muse if she has something to say during this time. I’m keeping pen and paper handy.
Beyond the desire to have an artist’s retreat, I think I’ve also been hankering to push the pause button on the manic pace of modern life, something I haven’t been able to do since my kids were born. Even if I don’t emerge from this time with a manuscript like Frankenstein, or a tower like Jung’s to show for my down time, I think I will benefit from unplugging. Wouldn’t we all? I can economize for a few months to make this dream happen. I lived like a student once upon a time. I’m sure I can do it again. Remember those days when the budget was so tight you lived on rice and pasta? I can make a mean risotto and no one will be the wiser that I’m pinching pennies.
Or, even if they do, I’m proud to be able to show my kids that I’m placing a priority on creativity and play. Even in the midst of hard economic times, we owe it to ourselves to stop and smell the roses. To take a breather from hard work so that we stay mentally and emotionally healthy.
This is my immersion in the creative well. My personal writing retreat. My journey within. I can’t wait.
***I’ll be honest, I’m not just studying the craft of writing. I’m cooking. Gardening. Beautifying my home. I think that one creative outlet feeds another, so it’s all good! What artistic project would you tackle around the house with two months off? I’d love to send one poster an advance copy of my upcoming Blaze, ONE MAN RUSH.