When I wake up in these uncertain times, before I check my phone and the barrage of news, I imagine myself back in the quiet cabin. In my twenties, I spent days isolated in a cabin in Northern New Mexico without central heat or a toilet. It was winter, and if I didn’t keep the wood stove stoked through the night, I’d hunker in the bed with hot water bottles and read. I read in bed this morning too, snuggling with a cup of coffee and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” It was glorious and something I’ve been hoping to do for months, on a weekend, when meetings and deadlines didn’t overtake my schedule. It only happened this morning in Kansas.
I am fortunate to be able to hide away, just like I was for days at a time in that cabin. I wrote much of my novel there, and also kept busy baking pies and watching hawks and eagles from the window. For writers, this time can be transformed as the isolation we always want. Yes, the unknown scarily lurks from the TV screen or text message. The numerous articles circling and the worries of friends and family. Yet, calm is the best medicine and time and space are now gift, and prescription.
I remember trucking out to that cabin with all the food I’d need for ten days and the big task list of scenes to write and chapters to revise. I had to structure my time and padlock the front door, so I didn’t get scared of strangers or bears or bugs. During those hours, though, I got to know my characters, and the place became one of the settings of my novel. I also got to know myself more and the things I reach for in times of loneliness or writer’s block.
It took courage to be alone in the cabin, and it takes courage now to be in my isolated apartment. I vacillate between worry and inner contemplation. Then I get quiet and listen to the birds still tweeting, feel the flowers pushing up from the spring earth, and reach for the books and papers and pens.
In these times, along with cleaning the spice cabinet and watching Netflix, I encourage you to be the writers, artists and dreamers that you are.
Lindsay Rice, President, Whispering Prairie Press