We sit in solitary and write our stories. It´s a lonely occupation to be a writer. Even if you sit at a coffee shop or somewhere else in public, it´s still a lonely thing to do. That is why we all jump on possibility to go on writer’s retreats or seminars to meet other writers. To get the chance to talk about the process of writing, ask those questions that will render you a one way ticket to the asylum if asked to the wrong person. Two weekends ago I was at one of those writers retreats and it was fabulous to talk about writing and just write. No internet connection during the whole weekend, no distractions from doing laundry or whatever.
I´m not going to jump ahead on the story, it needs to be told from the beginning. This retreat was planned month ago and we all looked forward to it. It was going to be from Friday to Sunday and lots of time for writing and socializing. I packed my car around one o´ clock and left in high spirit. I got one hour of perfect driving leaving me with thirty minutes left. Then I notice the oil lamp shining, fine I find a gas station and buy oil. I got as far as of the highway and had 500 meters left, when the car broke down. Swearing a lot, I get out of the car and check under the hood. I see that this is nothing that will be easily fixed because the engine is leaking oil and a piece has broken off. How the hell do I get from here and home with a broken car? Calling mom to check when my brother gets off work. She tells me it´s two hours left before the end of his shift but she tells me to call my sister. I call her and she say that she´ll pick me up after she pick up her son from school. Sweet, I´ll get home and get the car with me! But I won’t get to the retreat. Crap! And a lot of other bad words that I won´t tell you here. I called Annie to let her know that I´m not making it, no way would I be able to get there without a car.
My sister finally comes after an hour and a half, by then only one person has stopped and asked if I needed help. A woman with kids and a dog in the car stops, not a man that might have the knowledge about cars. My sister and I try to figure out where to hook the line to my car, no visible place to put it. Then a sweet young man stops and ask if we need help, which we do since we can´t find the right place. He help us figure it out and he makes sure it sit and won´t loosen during the towing. We the get to the gas station I was heading for before breakdown, my sister needs to fill her car up. She sends a pic of the broken piece to her hubby and he says that it probably won´t be fixable. Which I already kind of knew. So we drag my car to the nearest wrecking yard or junk yard if you prefer that word.
Of course the place is closed for the weekend when we arrive. While I move my things over to my sister´s car, she obviously is checking how long it is to Nynäs Castle. She discovers that it´s just thirty minutes and offers to drive me, since I´ve probably waited and really wanted to go. How am I going home on Sunday? She offers to pick me up if I don´t get a ride from someone else. Stupid I´m not so I said yes, this would have been a different story otherwise.. 😉
Arriving to Nynäs Castle was kind of mind blowing. The castle towering over the grounds and the hostel we stayed in. The feeling when I unpacked the car was surreal, with the lake just a meter from the hostel we got it all. Surrounded by all this beauty would make it easy to write things down. We were lucky enough to get a guided tour of the castle, to hear all the stories of the people that lived there before. Up to 1985 it was privately owned by ascendants to the Bonde family. The castle is closed for the season, our tour was thanks to Christoffer and Annie that works at the estate. It´s good to have connections, right? They fixed a special tour of the library, were no one gets a tour unless you do research. Being close to a book that is 500 years old is just magical for a writer. It gives us hope that our babies might make it long after we are dead. When Pontus the custodian talked about Earl Bonde, the person responsible for filling the library with over 6000 titles, one of the doors to the shelves open. No one was standing nearby and a few of us noticed it, getting the eerie feeling that Bonde might be there to check if we treated his books with respect. After the tour we had lunch and then more writing time. Some opted on talking ideas and helping each other with reading someone else story. Just to talk to someone else that understands without explanations. Ask all those weird questions on how long it takes before a dead body starts to smell, or where to stab someone in the stomach without killing them.
After a late dinner Christoffer came and asked if anyone wanted to go for a ghost tour in the castle? Really, you ask a bunch of authors if we want a ghost tour?!?! We were eleven that went up to the castle at 11:30pm. Walking around in a big castle with just one flashlight and some cell phones is really fun. If you are sensitive you might feel the previous owners walking behind you. Some of us kept counting to see if we lost anyone on the way, we didn´t but we gained one in the fabric room. That is the room where they did the colouring and weaving. Christoffer was talking about all the different things in the room when I saw someone stand in the doorway. I found that odd since the rest of us was standing in the room, I then realised that the person didn´t have facial features. Deciding to double check I counted us all and counting me as ten and the girl next to me as eleven.. Yeah, it gave me chills.. But it also gave me good ideas for stories.
Sunday morning was a quiet affair since we all were tired after the walk and the wine the rest drank the night before. More writing and talking about writing. We decided that we will do it again next year in the spring. I got home that day, my sister in law picked me up after visiting her family in the nearby town. When I finally got in and landed in my couch I was dead tired but happy. I was alone again and could focus on my “voices” and reflect on the weekend. When I write this it has almost passed two weeks and I can´t wait for next time to talk writing a whole weekend. Well, they did talk about maybe making it a full week. Oh, the writing I could get done with a week without internet.