(No longer secret because it's posted here!)
I did this before when I was still living by myself in a condominium (more than four years ago). All I had to do was shut down and unplug, pull myself out of the daily routines, and flow with the odd rhythms of creation. I made an announcement through email and social media to advise clients and family and friends or anyone else who might try to contact me during the retreat. I had five full days to myself, going deep into the forest, although at that time I didn't realise it was a forest. So much were still hidden from me at that time, or my eyes were still half-blind, or I did not know yet how to see in the shadows.
Lately I've been feeling I want to do it again. To secure that one long uninterrupted length of time to follow trails of thoughts and ideas farther than I ever could when immersed in the heavily distracted routines of daily life. It would mean I would have to lug around all my art materials, including the large canvases. And newspapers to lay on floors to catch the wayward drips and drops of paint. Because clearly I cannot do this retreat in the house where I live in now, which is peopled with individuals with their own daily routines and agendas cramped in a space where too much noise overwhelms my sought-for silence and where I am expected to participate and adjust with the household's own clock-time.
Then there is the matter of space, and light, and defending from the heat and the mosquitoes. In my condo unit I had an air-conditioner to temper the interior weather, and I didn't have mosquitoes. And one wall was almost entirely windows. And very quiet when I want it to be. I only had meals when I was hungry, and often skipped dinners and ate a lot of post-midnight or pre-sunrise snacks.
I'm thinking of checking into something like the Red Planet again, or if there's a nice affordable Air B&B somewhere in the Ortigas area, near where all the Korean restaurants and cafes are.
I will be painting and writing. I will still be online but mostly to share my process and progress, and do research on things like male muses and the anatomy of a heart and the shape of bones of imaginary creatures. Or what is the word for the various strains of desolation. And of course, a lot of reading as well, and likely paper books so my luggage will be like I'm going to be away for a month rather than a week.
A dear friend of mine who is a poet and a teacher, has the good fortune of staying for a couple of weeks in a beautiful place called Rivendell's Writers' Colony. I was almost teary-eyed with longing for all that floor space where she laid out her poem pages to deliberate how she will put them together into a chapbook. And all those windows and open space outside and nature surrounding everything.
Don't get me wrong. I can make art and write in my everyday space. But there are times when you feel you need one big surge of creation, just release all the pent-up energies that I've been doling out in safe reasonable trickles, and that can only happen if all the daily boundaries are removed and the usual limitations lifted. I'm all for strength training through adversity but I also cannot discount the value of simply being granted some space and light and the chance to work in better conditions.
As usual, funding is a primary hurdle. (Are you tired of reading me moan about munny? Me too, I tell you. Me too. But I would say it's part of my process to figuring things out, and I trust my process. It's taken me through the past seven years without a regular paycheck.) Let's see, a 5D/4N stay will cost me about $150, plus meals and snacks. Let's say to be safe, including any emergency supply needs I'll peg the budget to be $250. Hmmm. Still cheaper than a beach trip, and the value of the yield will be immense. So all in all, not a bad investment.
Alright. I'll let these thoughts sit here and brew. We'll see what happens next.
Meanwhile, here are snapshots from my previous creative retreat (that would be sometime 2012 or 2013, I think, before I had to move back into my parents' house) -- I also started with the feeling of chafing in my daily constrained routines, and then planning, and then finally doing it. I want to be able to do it again.