Week 2 of Writing Isolation: Clearly, it Ain’t for Me

If you read my last blog, you’ll know I’m experimenting with writing in isolation. I was having trouble getting started on the dreaded second novel (because whose second novel was the big winner, right?!), so decided to try a new method to trap my muse.

I’m staying at my friend’s cottage in the outback of the Nova Scotian Valley for three weeks. Well, when I say ‘outback’, I mean cottage country overlooking a man-made lake — though it is definitely isolated this time of year. In the last week, I’ve seen a squirrel, a woodpecker, three crows and four cars. The most talking I’ve heard all week is by the lake itself — apparently lakes fart, gurgle and burp in winter. (Very amusing to someone who hasn’t conversed in a while). Oh, and I saw some rabbit tracks – which was also very exciting!! Life does exist here, but in hibernation.

So far, I can’t recommend deep isolation. Yes, I got some writing done in my first week since there are zero distractions here, but week two has been a complete failure.

I’m not lonely, as my friends keep in touch via email and send me all their support and news, so that’s not been an issue.

It’s the lack of energy, movement and sound that is boring my muse to death.

So today I drove into Wolfville, a nearby university town on the Harvest Highway; it’s Nova Scotia’s Tuscany, if you need a comparison. Hilly vineyards covered in snow, farmland swept by cold winds and eagles, all overlooking the beautiful Minas Basin. It’s stunning.

My first stop was the local bookshop, Box of Delights. I wanted to make sure they had The Stowaways on the shelf. That was a nice reminder that I am indeed a writer — they knew my book and had sold out of it. Yay! Then I walked to the public library to flog my book there — because who doesn’t want their book in every library possible?

And then, sweet world, I went to one of my favourite places in Nova Scotia: the Garden Room at Acadia University. Having purchased a great book called Osbert The Avenger, a middle grade novel written by Australian Christopher William Hill, I tore off my hat and gloves and threw myself gladly into a chair in the sun. Here was the energy I was lacking!

Garden Room

All this to say that I think we writers often dream of isolation, but in actual fact it doesn’t work for very long. I need to feel the energy of movement around me.

Which brings me to my next writing experiment: writing in public. I’ve never tried this before, and since I’m in the valley for another ten days, I am going to drive to Wolfville every day and write in the grand Garden Room by the fountain, where water drips from copper maple leaves near the grand piano that sits waiting to serve at a concert every night… well, you get it. I’m going to write in a place full of movement and potential, to see if that re-inspires me.

Life is a constant adaptation, is it not?

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