Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.
I finished the rough draft of my book last Friday.
As you might know, I took myself off on a solo writing retreat for the last two weeks of September. I stayed at a favourite inner-city interstate hotel, got a corner room on the top floor with great views AND a massive blank wall (that was actually the most important bit, because I planned my entire novel on cards and post-it notes and stuck them to that wall so I could lie in bed and look at my book as a visual journey), and I committed to writing until I had an ending.
Of course, before I left for this trip I entertained all kinds of thoughts.
I would spend time each day on breaks by going into the city and window shopping or visiting an art gallery or museum.
I would catch up with friends for coffee breaks.
I would combine writing with resting and having a good break.
It was nothing like that.
All I did was write, sleep, snack (I lived on protein shakes, rice crackers, yoghurt, fruit and the occasional sushi roll or a decaf coffee and a meal sent over to my room by a friend) and mutter to myself, interspersed with short outside walks, yoga in my room, more muttering, some hysterical laughter and quite a lot of tears, cos writing is HARD!
Towards the end of my stay, after a fitful night of sleeping because I could not figure out how to tie everything together, I started writing on Wednesday at 4am, and then looked up on Friday mid-morning, after about 6 broken hours of sleep in between, and I was typing the final words. And then it was done.
I cried all of Friday morning, because of the plot line, and also because it was beautiful. And hard!
When I finished I walked around in a daze, still crying.
Finally, I decided to mark the occasion of finishing this draft by taking myself out to lunch.
I was all blinky and owl-eyed in the bright sun, and it felt surreal to be in the real world after I had lived in my imagination so intensively.
I found a table outside in the fresh air and drank a glass of French Champagne, ate oysters, and baba ganoush on toasted focaccia, and then enjoyed a proper coffee and a Pineapple Tarte tatin with brown butter ice-cream.
I sat quietly for two hours, drinking in the world, savouring my food, and coming back to myself again.
And it was good.
I might make that a ritual for all the books to come.
I encourage you to gift yourself this same kind of commitment to something important to you. Once you get used to the strangeness of doing something completely for yourself, it’s fabulous!
Love, hugs and remnants of total exhaustion, Nicole xx
PS – Pics are me out at restaurant – exhausted and still red-faced and glassy-eyed from crying and sitting in my room at a screen for so many hours; and my delicious meal.