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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

A Room with a View

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(Mr. Forster, wherever you are…I hope you can forgive me.)

I’ve only ever stayed in New York City hotel rooms for my launch parties, but for the Main Street Vegan Academy mini-reunion last weekend, I booked one thinking two out-of-town friends would be joining me. Alas, their travel plans fell through, but I decided to make the best of the situation by turning it into an all-night writing retreat of sorts. Check out wasn’t until noon, after all…

(You may have noticed my tweets from one night a couple of weeks ago, when I drank too much coffee at the Starbucks down the street and ended up working ’til 6am.)


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Yup, the hotel is literally at “Ground Zero” (with a Morton’s steakhouse downstairs, no less). I was living in an NYU dorm in Chinatown on September 11th, and saw more that day than I care to describe here. I still think about how many people lost their lives, and I bless them, wherever they are, but I’ve never felt the need to actually visit the memorial. (Now you see why I was in a rather morbid frame of mind.)

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After saying goodbye to my MSVA friends, I stopped at the Trader Joe’s near Union Square to pick up some “fuel” for the long night ahead. (I would be so deliciously productive! It would be SO WONDERFUL!!!!!)

Not long past midnight, though, my energy began to flag. The coffee I’d brewed in my room was really weak (even the decaf I made in the morning had more caffeine in it!), and I suddenly remembered I’d only gotten five hours of sleep the night before. With a couple of iced coffees I was hoping to ease myself into that elusive “sweet spot,” the “theta state” or however you like to label it, but it just wasn’t happening. I needed some shut-eye. So I promised myself I’d get a good three hours done in the morning, and climbed into the king-size bed.

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I used to write until 4 or 5 almost every night when I was in grad school working on Mary Modern. Twenty-four doesn’t feel that far from thirty-two, but I gotta face reality here: I’m not that young anymore. I can pull one of those exhilarated all-nighters every now and again—they are still every bit as fun as they were then!—but it’s going to take more planning than it used to. At any rate, in the morning I managed to finish a draft of the outline (or “chapter flow”) I’d been working toward, which had been my goal for the night anyway.

The other take-away from my experience over the weekend is this: you won’t be touched by some divine hand of inspiration every time you sit down to write. Much of the time it’s just putting one word down after another, and that’s perfectly okay. That’s how a book gets written.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.