Many hours of uninterrupted time. Near-complete quiet. A sublime swimming spot.
That’s what I needed and that’s what I got Fourth of July week.
Dear friends own a camp in North Waterford, on one of the Five Kezar Ponds. They offered me its use for the week as an early-summer writing retreat, an incredible gift for which I thank them with all my heart.
At the lakeside cabin I was able to stay in full-on writing mode for seven entire days, creating trouble and adventure for my new protagonist Neva Pierce, a Portland criminal defense lawyer caught up in an intense, dangerous case.
There really is no place like someone else’s place to get some serious writing done. I cranked out fourteen chapters, some a revision of an earlier start that was going in too many directions. But most of the words were new, and it feels right (at least for the moment) to be sending Neva down this particular perilous path.
As writing retreat environments go, the North Waterford camp was perfect—comfortable, rustic and classic. No internet or cell service, meaning no configuring one’s phone as a hotspot in order to check a fact on the web, and backup via flash drive only.
Diane was there much of the time, the ideal retreat partner in that she appreciates and respects my need to be in the zone. I rose early each morning, meditated briefly on the lake’s beauty, then set to work, writing on the screen porch or in the living room. She settled in the far bedroom, reading in a comfy rocker, sipping tea and keeping the classical music station low on the radio.
I wrote until the point in the afternoon when the heat and humidity (you remember Fourth of July week, right?) became too much to bear. Then we changed into bathing suits and skipped down the stairs to Middle Pond.
Early in the week the water was on the cool side. As the hot days built upon each other the water temp warmed to the point that it was necessary to swim out beyond the float to find the ribbon of coolness we sought. It was a singular pleasure to tread water, gaze at the foothills of the White Mountains and let the day’s words flow through my head.
We cooked in most of the time, listened to Red Sox games on the radio as the sun set, watched a neighbor’s private fireworks display on the Fourth. As the evenings deepened, the loons called on the pond, a lullaby if I’ve ever heard one.
The week had all the essential elements of a perfect writing retreat. I am a lucky woman, and a grateful one, too.
Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available everywhere e-books are sold. She is hard at work on a new series that has as its protagonist a Portland criminal defense lawyer willing to take on cases others won’t touch in a town to which she swore she’d never return.