By Brian Kaufman
The year before last, I decided to try a writer’s retreat, hoping to inspire and accelerate my latest work-in-progress. My wife is a published poet, and the idea appealed to her as well. Many web packages were out of our price range, so I decided to put my own package together with an eye toward relatively untraveled paths.
I settled on a cabin in the historic mining town of Columbine, Colorado, located twenty-nine miles northwest of Steamboat. Of the fourteen places available, we chose a little two-person cabin (called the Skier’s Cabin) with a bed, pot-belly stove, full kitchen, and a work table for my laptop. The floor was slightly slanted, which I loved—the original rustic charm of the old mining cabin was fully maintained—an excellent adventure.
The camp’s general store, built-in 1880, was open for business, as was the lodge/bathhouse. Down the road, we found Mad Creek Trail, a five-mile hike along a very noisy creek. On the way, my wife, dog, and I explored a historic barn and the foundation from an old farmhouse taken over by prairie dogs.
Nearby Glen Eden Restaurant served up some spectacular fried chicken and had a selection of my beloved IPAs on tap. Speaking of beer, I bought a six-pack of a local brew, Amputator, from Butcherknife Brewery. The occasional horror writer in me was pleased.
I brought books to read because I never go anywhere without books. At the time, I was busy devouring Joe Siple’s The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride and the latest Ellen Datlow horror anthology. (As a former cook, I am an expert at pairing.)
All of the above was done on a shoestring. We brought groceries for some of our meals. The cabin and tavern meals were extremely reasonable.
However . . .
The cabin was cold—something to my liking, but not so much for my poor wife. Sitting outside as the sun went down was beer heaven for me and an ordeal for her. And with so much to do and so much to see, guess what activity got put to the side? While we were there, I managed to write half of one chapter. Total. That’s approximately what I get done in a couple hours of writing at home.
I mention this because last week, I finished the rough draft of a new novel, the first in a series. I outlined the next two books. I’ve also (Internet) marketed two published novels, and I read just shy of a hundred books since January. At work, where I develop adult education texts on various business-related topics, I was able to average more than one new edition a month.
Thank you, COVID.
I have a friend, a published author, who fantasizes about a utopian prison sentence, complete with a laptop, research resources, and hours of focused, uninterrupted writing. Speaking only for myself, a writer’s retreat is a similar fantasy. However, the food and scenery are better than in a cell.
What paid great dividends this year were nights sequestered at home in front of my laptop, focused on a world I love, helping me escape from the one in which I live.