The Bed Nook
The Bed Nook

I reluctantly leave my cozy down comforter,  knowing I have miles of words to write today.  After yesterday’s drizzle, the sun is invigorating.  First, a tall mug of black coffee and a bowl of hot oatmeal, then I open my laptop to where I left off in the Scrivener program.

Hummer and Rupalini pop up on the screen to greet me.  They’re the old couple who escaped the growing dystopic world of the mid-2000’s and settled in the hills.   He’s saving his last 2 bullets from his now empty stockpile;  her mind long gone, she’s obsessed with finding out when the world turned.

After that chapter, I return to the present day narrator, wondering what will move her from feeling overwhelmed and hopeless about the state of the world and get her motivated into action.

Skyline Meadow
Skyline Meadow

Scott knocks at my door with a refilled jar of brown sugar and the most recent copy of Yes! Magazine from Diane.  I’m drawn into conversation with him, and write down his blog,  The Rambling Taoist.  He came to Skyline Harvest for a short visit and stayed. Skyline attracts such interesting people!

I write all morning, take a break for lunch and a short nap, then continue into the afternoon.  My word count is mounting, but not fast enough.  I console myself that the time I spend thinking through larger aspects of this project doesn’t show up as word counts.

There’s a lot of good stuff in Yes! Magazine’s Summer 2013 issue.  Here’s a few notes I took:

  • Will we turn against one another in a struggle for the last resources, or turn to one another in cooperation and community?  (Sarah van Gelder)
  • How to create new cultural stories and what we consider sources of true happiness? (van Gelder)
  • Definition of Revelation (Latin) and Apocalypse (Greek) is “A lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something hidden; coming to clarity.”  (Robert Jensen)
  • It’s an illusion we can maintain an extractive economy indefinitely.  Our planet is not just a mine and a landfill. For some, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of air conditioning! (Jensen)
  • “Prefigurative  Interventions” – Playful Protests, Pranks & Serious Works of Imagination.”  Look it up!   Beautiful Trouble, a Toolbox for Revolution at
The Ranch House
The Ranch House

The afternoon sun beckons me out to pick some figs from the huge tree next to the Ranch House.  I also explore the other buildings for future stays.  Each one is cozy in a grandmotherly kind of way.

The Cabin's Livingroom
The Cabin’s Livingroom
The Cabin
The Cabin
The Gazebo

Next time I come to Skyline Harvest, I might stay at the Cabin with its multi-level outside deck.  Or if I had a group, we’d take over The Ranch House.  I probably won’t have time to spend writing in the screened Gazebo, but maybe next visit.

After dinner and another session with Diane, then an hour of cello practice, I’m revitalized to write again.  Work Table -NightThe moths check in on me against the lighted window, wondering how I’m doing.

When I close the laptop at 11:30 pm, I’m at 2,159 words for the day, for a grand total of 2,525.  Not as many as I’d hoped.

As my Grandma Moffett would say, “Well, it is.”

© All materials copyright Shirley DicKard, 2012 – 2013, except as otherwise noted.


    1. Amazing, isn’t it, that an idea can germinate for so long then finally take root and grow. When I knew it was time to really make the book happen, I hired a writing coach who helped me move forward in a faster, more efficient way. What are you working on?

      1. A story of Keziah Atwood Gibbs my 5th great grandmother found here called my first blog then my claim to the Mayflower, She needed a husband, He needed a wife
        Some is facts and then I imagine. I’d love some feedback? And tell me more about a writing coach?

        1. You’ve done an amazing amount of research and pulled it together into your family’s biography. Wow.
          Important questions to ask yourself are “What is my purpose in writing this? My expectations? Who is my audience?” That will determine what you do with your story and how you frame it. If it’s simply for your own enjoyment as a life long project, then go for it and have fun. Is it family documentation for your descendants? Then perhaps you’ll want to put it into print. Is there a town or historical society that would be interested in this for their archives? There’s a tremendous number of books on writing memoirs, and writing groups you can connect with. Ask other writers if they know of good writing coaches – often former editors, teachers, etc.. Much of this can be done online, electronically now. Good luck!

        2. Thank you for taking the time to reply, I’m honoured Margaret Atwood is my 9th cousin, The messages from the past definitely coming through. I’m thinking What is my desk?

        3. Ah hah – found you! It was fun knowing you were viewing my webinar on my great-grandmother. Maybe you got some ideas for the tremendous amount of historical research you’ve done on your 5th great-grandmother?

        4. Yes I loved your presentation! I have a shift, going on, on WordPress thru anchor in my voice I can record podcasts of the ancestors stories! Steep learning curve, started out all the dates and names so focussed on ‘telling ‘the’ story only now.
          Hugs Wendy Harty

        5. Once you have a blog published there are two options
          Need an Anchor account which links WordPress to your podcast
          1. A voice will read your blog.
          2. You can record your blog, add music, some sound effects, I’m linking mine on my Facebook page.
          Maybe you could friend me on Facebook? My first tries not happy ( the music crashes in and my voice not strong enough)but the last story comments were tell us more!

  1. I so very very badly want to do a writing retreat to get some work done on my novel. Of course I’m in the midterms of my last semester at college right now, but this is an idea for next year. I hope you’re having a great time!

    1. My first writing retreats were simply announcing I was on retreat, turning off my phones and closing the door. Hah! I still got lots done. So what’s the novel you’re working on, and where and what are you’re studying in college? Good luck on your midterms!

      1. That will have to be what I do first. My boss has gone to a writing retreat every year since 2007 and I’m jealous, but I’m lucky that I just live with my fiancé and he works all the time, so I get long days of writing. Last night I wrote almost 30 pages (long hand).
        Your novel-in-progress sounds SO fascinating! I’m writing a novel set about ten years in the future about three people preparing to leave Earth for good to go live in a commercial colony on Mars. They show up at the training facility at the end and the novel is written in three convergent stories, which is complicated to say the least. The novel is more about how and why people prepare to leave their lives for good, for whatever reason. I’m about to graduate with an English/Creative Writing degree from the University of Georgia. I read that you’re born and raised in California- I have never been but hope to go as soon as possible. How long have you been writing your novel? I am so intrigued by your story of your future great-granddaughter.

        1. Perhaps there’s a parallel between leaving earth for Mars and those who left their lives and families behind to seek gold in the 1849 Gold Rush? The west coast is now full of restless, innovative people – descendants of the risk-takers of the westward movement.
          To answer you question – I started my novel 20 years ago – fascinated by my great-grandmother’s gold rush era history. It has evolved since then to encompass 3 generations in 3 centuries. Yes, like yours, complex.

        2. You’re so right! The “speculative fiction/sci fi” aspect of my novel is almost irrelevant (the characters don’t even say where they’re going until near the end), the focus is very much on the people who are choosing to give up everything they know and love to leave, for good, and what motivates a person to do so. Same with the people who struck out across the country with everything they could strap on a wagon or carry, chasing a dream. Same exact concept, actually. IS the grass greener?
          I’m lucky enough to know several people who are writing novels/memoirs and each has been working for a long time. My goal is to finish out my first draft by the end of November (National Novel Writing Month, as I’m sure you know), but I don’t want to rush my characters and push them in the wrong direction. The really lengthy stage will be revision (obviously).
          How long are you at your retreat?

        3. Yes, and the publishing phase can be even longer, I’ve been observing. But I’m writing because I love writing and will finish when I’m satisfied. Although I said I started the original concept for my novel 20 years ago, I did put it down to work, raise a family, etc. I picked it up about 4 years ago.
          I love the premise you’re exploring – leaving a life behind, by choice. Of course, we have so many examples of peoples forced by politics and war to do the same – leave with only a suitcase for the safest refugee camp.
          I was only at my retreat 48 hours – not enough! Next time, I’ll try for a week
          I hope NaNoWriMo gets you to your goal of a first draft!

        4. 48 hours isn’t much at all but it sounds like you got some good work done. I’m going to a fundraiser at the Hambidge Center tomorrow, which is an artist retreat near me I really want to attend someday soon.
          I hope the publishing process isn’t too tortuous. Your story sounds fascinating so I think it’s just a matter of finding the right press.
          I’m so looking forward to NaNoWriMo! And I’m taking a corresponding workshop so I’m looking forward to November in general.
          Hope you’re well!

        5. Ooh thanks so much for sending me this. I have very few writing resources (except for that I’m completing a Creative Writing degree, which comes with less resources than you’d think) and I’ve been amassing some excellent links recently from my wonderful writer friends. These both look like really interesting and useful sites. I’m filling out my info on Delve Writing now!

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