Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Retreat Time

Thanks for having me back, Judy!

Despite being a full-time fiction writer, its often hard to be super productive while sitting in my office at home. During one stretch when I really needed to pound some word count, I found a Quaker retreat house in West Falmouth, which is on the near edge of Cape Cod, on Buzzard's Bay, a couple of hours drive from my home. The house is just across a Friends graveyard from the West Falmouth Friends Meetinghouse that was built in 1842. I reserved a room for $25 per night, but no one else was going to be there, so that was the price of the entire house.

I drove down  on a Friday with a bad cold and stocked a few simple provisions. I set up my netbook, made some tea, and set to writing. My only distractions were my own: going for a walk, reading, thinking. The house did NOT come equipped with internet. This turned out to be a huge blessing. I crossed the street to the library once a day to check for any messages that needed acting on and otherwise left cyberspace alone.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I took care of my cold and kept writing. I gazed out the back window at the remnants of the Meeting garden, moseyed out to pluck some bits of parsley for my soup, and kept
writing. I went for a walk down to the bay and sat and listened to the calm winter lapping of the bay, then went back and kept writing

I had recently re-read Rachel Aaron's post on how she writes 10,000 words a day (and thanks to Ramona DeFelice Long for reminding me of that post last week). One of her secrets is to leave home for few hours. Check, in spades. Another is to only write the interesting scenes (and really, if you aren't compelled to write it, readers probably won't be compelled to read it, either).  I had plotted a few scenes ahead. So I jumped to the really interesting one and wrote that. Then I went back and wrote the scenes leading up to that one, making them more interesting, too. Check.

I took meal breaks at the kitchen counter and read a mystery, but I only let myself read as long as I was eating. Then, guess what, I kept writing.

I walked through the graveyard to sit in worship with Friends on Sunday morning, then got to know a few of them, talking casually about why I was there and what I was working on. Then I went back to write.

My cold was still pretty bad late Sunday night (despite adding a bit of brandy to my tea with honey and lemon) and my cough wasn't fit for human company. I canceled my plan to drive home on Monday morning and stayed at my writing station until midday on Monday. Final tally for just under 3 full days of retreat? 15,071 words. Wow!
Quaker House, I will return to thee.

Readers, what's your favorite retreat center? Where are you most productive in creative endeavors when you can grab a stretch of time, whether it's three hours or three days?

Amazon best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Lauren Rousseau mysteries under the pseudonym Tace Baker, in which Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau solves small-town murders (Barking Rain Press). The second book in the series, Bluffing is Murder, released in November 2014. Edith holds a doctorate in linguistics and is a long-time member of Amesbury Friends Meeting.

Til Dirt Do Us Part is the latest in Maxwell's Local Foods Mysteries series (Kensington Publishing, 2014). Her Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day (also from Kensington), will debut with Flipped for Murder in November 2015.

Maxwell’s Carriagetown Mysteries series features Quaker midwife Rose Carroll solving mysteries in 1888 with John Greenleaf Whittier’s help. Maxwell also writes award-winning short stories.

A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, Maxwell lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors (, and you can find her at, @edithmaxwell, on Pinterest, and at


LD Masterson said...

As an empty nester with a still-employed husband, home should be the perfect place to write during the day. Not so much. I think I need to find my own Quaker House.

Edith Maxwell said...

I know what you mean, LD. Too many distractions!