I ran away last week.
It’s okay. I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.
In a twist of fate I had two book deadlines due February 1st. As if one wasn’t enough! Yup. I had to review final proofs for book one in my fantasy middle grade series coming out in May, Joshua and the Lightning Road, and hand in edits to go to print (cowabunga!) and I also had to hand in book 2 in the series.
A storm was coming. There would be snow days. There would be laid-off husbands clunking around and a son wanting to hang out (usually a good thing!) and cats jumping on my lap and laundry piling up and meals to be made. There would be no white space just a space of many colors.
And I needed chunks and chunks of white space to create my own colors.
And I do mean white as I raced ahead of the BIG STORM I-shall-not-name that was-not-to-be to a teeny tiny town called Boyds Mill, PA. This is where the Highlights Foundation runs a fabulous retreat center with author-run workshops and cabins for writers who need to run away (apparently it’s a writerly phenomenon).
In another twist of fate all the cabins were closed for the winter except the big lodge and I had it all to myself. Did I say ALL TO MYSELF? I did.
Through the arctic tundra I traveled. Down snowy roads to my haven in the woods.
Now if you haven’t heard of Highlights you should! They’ve been producing children’s magazines and books for decades. And what a treasure it was to find these old magazines from the 1940s in the lodge.
And this was my view all alone in this lodge.
Surrounded by framed illustrations and authors all around the world who’ve created pictures from writers’ imagination inspiring kids to dream.
And this was my white space from my desk. But in that white space was movement and color and joy. For every day, far across the snow on the hill, two kids played. A big brother pulled them on a sled behind his ATV as their dogs ran about. Up and down they went. Back and forth. The dog tumbling along. Their laughter bounding off the snow to me.
And I remembered the days when I would sled all day with my dogs. Down the hill to slide across the pond, yelling as loud as I could, my dogs racing with me. Then to run up and do it all over again – and again.
And that memory and the scene before me blended into one. I grasped my own child-like wonder (that can be so often lost in the drudgery of line editing and the writing business) and the wonder of these kids before me, and looked at the pages in my book – and I felt it there. I felt it so deeply that I picked up the phone to call my mother and share my excitement. We once shared every day. And in that brief child-like wonder my mother was alive again to me. Then the loss of six years hit me all over again. Her gifts were left behind and her vibrant colors were long gone.
But my white space was now colored with my own paint of childlike wonder.
And eventually I ran away back home to a world of different colors.
One of my own making as well.
And that was just fine.