Retreating to Write

One week. Seven glorious days. The equivalent, for me, of a snow-in. I got s**t done, people.

My husband signed up to attend a conference in Erice, Sicily for a week in the end of May. I said, “Sicily? When teaching is done and my conferences haven’t started yet? Put me in your luggage, dude.”

So I hitched on to his conference, and spent a week in a mountaintop stone city that was once home to the Cult of Venus. The sun was shining brutally, which means my sorry white bum was restricted indoors on threat of dire illness.

Oh, darn. Trapped in a monastery-turned-hotel with my computer, my current project, and not enough touristy stuff to fill a morning, much less seven days.


I outlined. I storyboarded. I edited images and animated and chose fonts and decided what parts of my print story my digital reader would get. I discovered the initial stages of creating digital fiction: that even with a heavily edited and revised short story, the creation of its digital version takes you back to the trial and error and aimless wandering in the woods that is rough-drafting.

It’s been a really long time since I was this new to any part of the creation process; when I sit down to write a story, I have a pretty ingrained process at this point. But adapting it to digital opens up all new things, not the least of which is learning software platforms (compounded by my paucity of funds which means I have to use freeware). I spend hours creating a certain effect in a screenshot or transition, only to sleep on it and find that in the morning, my brain wants to do something altogether different.

It’s difficult, and more time-consuming than I thought it would be, but I’m glad I set myself the task to complete a prototype for my PhD before buckling down to do the real thing. I can enter into the process with my eyes open at least a little bit wider.

I’m home now, and haven’t even been able to look at the file for all the conference-organization matters cropping up for the showdown next week. I miss Erice, it’s lack of cell phone service, and spotty wireless, like it was another limb. I achieved hermitude there, a lifelong ambition that I hope to attain again. Ciao, baby.

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