Here at The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, we have scheduling fairies who put names on a magical calendar so that we all know who is posting and when. And, weeks ago, when I saw the date I would next post, I immediately thought, “Oh! That’s the day before I escape to…”
Every year, this land-locked Ohio farm girl spends a week in a cottage on the Maine shore with nine writing friends. It is often the most inspiring and productive week of my writing year. I can smell the ocean air already!
I began to wonder how other middle-grade authors escape the daily grind. Where do they go to think more clearly? Breathe more deeply?
And, so, I just asked.
Some of you might follow author Cynthia Lord on Facebook. If you don’t, you probably should click on her name and do that now, because she posts thoughtfully and with her heart, and you’ll love following her. And if you already do, you know that she has this great little escape in her own backyard.
Cynthia told me that she got her writing shed (aptly dubbed “Walden Backyard”) after RULES won a Newbery Honor and she and her husband were a bit cramped sharing an office in their house. Cynthia’s escape is close to home, and she loves writing in her multi-season shed. (We would say all-season, but she does live in Maine, and I’ve seen pictures in which the snow was piled nearly as high as the shed!)
“Ha! As I reply to your question, I am sitting in a hotel room where I’ve escaped to get writing done.”
Enough said, Lisa! Now, get back to work and don’t let me get in the way of progress!
I was surprised how many authors escape to water. Kirby Larson, author of HATTIE BIG SKY and the new DASH and DUKE, escapes ocean-side to be with the eagles and hummingbirds. It’s interesting that negative ocean ions can positively affect one’s blood pressure! Thanks, Kirby!
Mixed-Up Files Author Tricia Springstubb echoed the water theme as well. Her newest middle-grade novel MOONPENNY ISLAND is set on a fictitious island. It’s no small coincidence that Moonpenny Island mirrors Kelley’s Island and Tricia’s favorite rocky and remote get-away. Tricia finds water so motivating, she often swims to clear her head and has solved more than one plot dilemma after coming out of the pool!
Some writers, though they enjoy a good vacation, have found a more accessible escape. Margaret Peterson Haddix (the MISSING series and the SHADOW CHILDREN series) and Marlane Kennedy (THE DOG DAYS OF CHARLOTTE HAYES and the DISASTER STRIKES series) both agreed that when they are caught up in a good writing moment, their best escape is the story itself. Marlane shares, “When I am deep within a story, I am not even aware of my surroundings. I am transported to wherever and whatever is happening in my story, and my writing escape is more within my mind than anywhere else.” (Margaret’s escape mode, however, is not entirely waterless. Like Tricia, she’s another swimmer/thinker!)
Margaret Peterson Haddix and Marlane Kennedy
Lots more Mixed-Up Files Authors weighted in as well! You can see their pictures and read about their books here. But first, take a moment to read about their escapes:
Jacqueline Jaeger Houtman – Coffee shop. Earbuds. Vivaldi.
Michele Weber Hurwitz – I’m a big walker. Nothing like a long walk to clear my head and work through trouble spots in a WIP.
Greg R. Fishbone – Long train rides are great for writing.
Amie Borst – When my office won’t suffice, I love to sit on my back deck or by the lake. (There’s that water thing again!)
Valerie Stein – On the sailboat! Calm, quiet motion at the dock, free of distractions. (And again!)
Rosanne Parry – Love writing in my treehouse in the summer. Fresh air, lots of birds & squirrels for company and no distractions. Bliss!
Okay, I admit it. I just couldn’t leave Rosanne’s comment without hoping on over to her website to see if, just maybe, she had a picture of said treehouse. And, bingo! Here it is.
So, we would love to hear about your writing escape. Comment below and let us know where you go! I’ll try to respond, but remember, in less than 24 hours, I’ll be escaping to…
Michelle Houts is the author of four books for middle-grade readers. She loves mail (the real, slow, stamped-envelope kind) so she created the 52 Letters in a Year Challenge to encourage writers young and not very young to help revive the art of letter-writing. Visit Michelle at www.michellehouts.com. On Twitter @mhoutswrites and on Facebook as Michelle Houts.