Edith north of Boston, finally enjoying a little break from one of the hottest, driest summers on record. And talking about an intense summer brings me to today’s topic: intensity.
I am known among people close to me for being rather intense. I tend to do things whole hog, full steam ahead, not proceeding with half measures. When I walk, I use the briskest pace I can. When I’m working, it absorbs me and I am both productive and efficient (well, usually). I love good food and wine and most of the time end up consuming
too much of both. There’s a down side to having this kind of personality, too – if someone wrongs me, I never, ever forget it.
Some would chalk it up to being a double Scorpio: my sun sign is in the constellation Scorpio, and my ascendant (or rising sign) is, too, because the sun at the moment it rose above the Eastern horizon was also in Scorpio. And Scorpios can be pretty intense (I just
learned Hillary Clinton is a double Scorpio exactly the same way I am…).
Regardless of cause, that’s who I am. So when I went on a writers’ retreat last week with three author buddies, guess what kind of retreat it was for me? Yup, intense. I gathered with Ramona DeFelice Long, KB Inglee, and Wicked
Accomplice Kim Gray at Clare House, a convent retreat house in Pennsylvania. We each had writing projects to work on, and we mostly ignored each other all day and worked, having the house to ourselves.
And it was fabulous. I wrote over 11,000 words. I started writing Country Store Mystery
number four, getting over five thousand words down. Then I switched gears and wrote a proposal, start to finish, for a new series, including the first two chapters. I had to keep my head down and charge ahead to get that much done, and I did, mornings, afternoons, and even part of one evening. I never work like that at home, usually devoting only the morning to my creative writing or revising and doing author business in the afternoons.
Sometimes when I fixed a bit of lunch to eat at the picnic table on the deck, one or more of the others would join me, and that was fine. But I always ate and then went right back upstairs. I even declined to go out to lunch with the rest on the penultimate day – because I had to finish the proposal before I left early the next morning. And finish I did.
It wasn’t all work. We gathered for wine and dinner every night and talked – a lot. Some of it was brainstorming about our work, but some was just chewing the fat. And those women have a lot of stories in them, no surprise! (Sorry, what’s said at the retreat stays at the retreat…) Everyone else had a drive of an hour or less, and mine was seven or eight. But I’d go back in a New York minute. I love an intense immersion like that.
What about you? Does intensity suit you or do you prefer a more relaxed pace, more steady progress? Have you had intense times away from your usual routine that suited you?