I’ve been at Ragdale a week now, and just now getting back into the rhythm of my Jack Kerouac novel—yet again having not taken my own advice to write something, anything every day if you want to avoid what I think of as The Muddle. When you write something every day, the door to the novel stays open. Of course, you have moments of frustration, but you're inside the novel solving whatever problem you have, as opposed to being locked out, feeling like whatever you’ve written so far was written by someone else who actually knew what the book was about. When you get in a muddle, like I’ve been for the last week, all you can do is keep nudging at the door, kicking if necessary, until it decides to re-open. Then, suddenly, finally, you’re back in that world again—familiar,yours.
Getting into The Muddle, as always, was my own damn fault. I went to South Bend, Chicago, L.A. I was home for little over a week, but when Louise woke me up at the usual ungodly hour, I did not take her out, feed her, make a cup of coffee, and go directly to my cozy little writing room—the one with nothing but an outdated laptop that has no internet access—and write. No. I told myself I was too busy for that; I needed to catch up on The List of Things To Do before I left for Ragdale. And went directly to my funky, but very distracting office with internet access and farted around answering e-mails, reading the NY Times online, organizing (i.e. neatly re-copying) the List of Things to Do, getting overwhelmed by said list, and accomplishing squat. Totally predictable.
I fled to Ragdale when the time came, hoping it wouldn’t take too long to get out of it. Like I said, it took awhile. But muddle or no muddle, Ragdale is a wonderful place to be. I am typing this in my favorite place: the sunroom, lined with lush geraniums that always seem like a small miracle to me in winter. I love this room with its green tables and chairs, its red tiled floor, its big windows overlooking the prairie.
Sometimes I think I’d like to come to here in the summer, when everything’s green and the garden is in bloom. When I could actually sleep in the bed on the screened in sleeping porch or lounge away an afternoon in the hammock, reading. Maybe bike over to Lake Michigan and spend some time on the beach. But the geraniums would be outside, where geraniums are supposed to be. Not magic, like they are on the sun porch in winter.
So as long as I’m lucky enough to have the gift of two weeks at Ragdale every year, I’m pretty sure I’ll choose winter every time.