Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Solitude by Chelle Cordero

small press review

What exactly is a “writer’s retreat”? Does it have to be a remote cabin in the woods? Or is it simply unbroken privacy and relaxation?

Many writers tend to be hermits by nature, at least when we are pre-occupied with a project – just leave us be. In this case a writer’s retreat can be anywhere we can work without interruption or stress. Yes, this may sound very unfriendly to someone outside of the writing circle, but writers understand this (occasional to frequent) need for solitude.

The other members of my immediate household are involved in a sports activity and every so often they travel away for a weekend – some time back my son invited me to join them on their trip to make use of the mountain cabin they would be staying in along with another dozen people; “Bring a laptop mom and write all day while we are out…” It was tempting, but I declined.

I adore spending time with my family, however remaining in a cabin (not air conditioned by the way…) where I would feel obligated to help with the cooking and cleaning and seeing my family only in a crowd (geez, even sleeping would have been separate and dormitory style!) paled against the concept of undisturbed quiet amongst all the comforts of home. With only the cats to feed morning and night, I had no other schedules to concern myself with.

The phones were ignored (a special ring that only family cell phones made happen) – I slept when I wanted to, typed at my desk as I needed to, ate simple meals without a lot of preparation – and I took relaxing breaks to read, watch TV or take a local drive. It felt like I was on vacation! Best of all I got things done and felt so accomplished. And when they returned we were all rejuvenated by pursuing favorite activities. We had a wonderful reunion.

Albert Einstein said “I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

There comes a time when a writer needs a brief respite from the day to day interruptions of everyday lives. Yes, we are stimulated by events around us, conversations, sights, sounds and even smells, but then we need time to just allow our minds to wander aimlessly, to ponder randomness. We do our best when we can retreat into our private little bubbles for a little while.

Are writers - am I - antisocial, eccentric, disturbed…? Or do we just crave a few moments in time to call our own?

small press review

Chelle Cordero is blessed to be a full-time writer and a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic. She has eight novels published with Vanilla Heart Publishing, short stories in three anthologies and numerous articles in various North American newspapers and magazines. Chelle also teaches an online writing course available through Kindle subscription.


  1. The environment a writer needs often requires effort to create because s/he is working out of the house. Nobody questions the trappings of work in a corporate office or the fact that when mom or dad is there, you don't drive over an bother them with stuff.

    Creating this at home isn't easy because writing tasks often look like goofing off to others. Researching something on the Internet appears as surfing and looking for a quote in a book looks like idle reading.

    I don't like the cabin in the woods even though I should, for finding one and getting there is just one heck of a lot of trouble. I need to be able to write where I live.


  2. "I need to be able to write where I live." - that about sums it up. Thanks Malcolm.

  3. Great post, Chelle! I love having "alone time" whether I'm writing or not. My favorite retreat is the beach. I can't bring my laptop, but I write in a notebook when I'm there. The saltwater air and the sound of the waves is very relaxing for me.

    The kids are grown and know to leave me alone when I'm writing - now I just need a doggie door so I don't have to get up every few minutes to let them out :-)

    As for writers being eccentric and disturbed - well maybe just a bit!


  4. Great post, Chelle. I think many writers do their writing at night, when everything is quiet, but I'm a day person and do my best writing before 3 PM. After that, I'm a dead thing. Even though I've told my friends I'm writing, they insist on calling at odd times. I've learned to tell them politely I'll call them back after 3 PM. I've tried writing at night, but my energy is limited and my body craves sleep.

  5. As many of you have all experienced, working from home looks too much like leisure time. I really have stopped answering most phone calls (thank you Caller ID) and limiting those I pick up.

    When my kids were younger and going to school so were many of the neighbors' kids - one or two parents thought (without asking) that my house was a great "drop off" whenever school was delayed due to weather and their jobs weren't.

    While I do believe my immediate household understands why I occasionally like being left home alone - outside friends and family often think it "shocking".

  6. Home run, Chelle.

    Write where you live, notebook to the beach, eccentric and private-that's me. I value privacy yet a warm body when the door opens is a good thing. I vote for having it both ways, kids.

    Meanwhile, order out and don't bother me.


  7. My family was trained long ago to understand that unless flame or blood are involved, don't bother me when I'm writing! As for eccentric and/or disturbed--yes to both. But in a good way.