Interlochen: Self-Imposed Lockdown
There are a few modifications to my schedule I’ve had to make this summer in order to meet the July 31st deadline for the (beginning of the) novel. With my colleagues, I joke that I’m on “self-imposed lockdown.” They’re all writers as well; they get it. Between 11am and 2pm each day, I eat lunch along the shore of Green Lake, walk back to The Writing House, lock the door to my office, and get to work. Some days, lesson planning or basic email catch up consume more than the allotted 60 minutes I like to give them. But most of the time, those tasks are done by 11:50 and I have more than two hours left on my hands to think about and revise the early pages of the novel.
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Self-imposed lockdown might not be the most inspirational name for a creative time, but it derives from the Lockdown Drills practiced in schools these days, where all the lights are turned off and the doors closed and the blinds dropped and no one makes a sound. The effect of this in my tiny office while the rest of the building hums with students around me is really remarkable. With just these few, easy adjustments, the world shrinks to the space between my eyes, my fingertips, and the distance to the laptop screen. I don’t have to let anything else enter that orb unless I really want to and, 90% of the time, I don’t.
Depending on how productive my afternoon lockdown session is, I may also need lockdown again that evening. At the house, it’s the same drill: Close the blinds so the roommate’s dog doesn’t bark, close the door to my room (keeping the dog on the other side), turn the lights off, turn the phone off, sit cross-legged on the bed with my laptop, and zero in. It’s a surprising technique for someone who usually prefers to write with a view. But when the pressure is on to complete so many other tasks any given day, the only way I can be productive is to shut the “rest of the world” out, if only momentarily.
The important counter to lockdown is soaking up the outdoors. Even in humid, 90 degree weather, it’s rarely too undesirable for me to go on a bike ride. The country roads here are glorious for long loops, occasional hill challenges, and long stretches of freedom-filled-flatness. Likewise, cars and trucks seem used to bikers, so I rarely feel my safety is jeopardized.
Finally, before my head hits the pillow, if I can convince myself to go on even just a 10 minute stroll, I’m guaranteed a sunset view over Green Lake. If I’m feeling ambitious, as I was last night, I might hop into the car for a last-minute drive to Old Mission Peninsula, where the sun sets over the West Arm of the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan. Days like that, it almost all sounds too good to be true. But one of the reasons summers at Interlochen work so well is that they’re long enough to foster a connection and short enough to let you go before it gets complicated.