I am sharing this article that appeared in October's edition of Suspense Magazine. Enjoy!
Destinations of Solitude
By Starr Gardinier Reina, author of “Deadly Decisions”
The kids are crying, the spouse needs your attention, the boss wants you to do something in a hurry. Sound familiar?
This is not an article to tell you how to write around that, to get out of it or to include it as a commentary or descriptive narrative in your next chapter. I’m not going to tell you how important writing is and how you should do it every day. I’m not even going to tell you how to write or what verb, adverb, etc. you should use.
What I am going to do is share some terrific places where you can run off and find some solitude to do what you do best. Some I’ve actually been to, others I dream of going to. Because I live on the West Coast, I'm going to start here.
A place I love going to that is not full to the rim with seasonal vacationers is Idyllwild, California. It’s an absolute delight nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains above Palm Springs. Many have never heard of it, which is good if you’re looking for a great getaway to find peace and quiet to write. It’s a very quaint small town offering jazz concerts, art exhibits, and numerous hiking trails. There are cabins aplenty to settle you, a computer and printer, if needed. Here are a few examples:
Woodland Park Manor is one of my favorites. It has a bungalow that makes you feel you’re all alone in the woods, but in reality are minutes from town. This particular cabin I stayed in had a small kitchen and is big enough for two. But you don’t need two, remember? You’re supposed to be up there alone, unless you’re taking your dog (or cat).
Quiet Creek Inn also boasts of privacy and yes, you guessed it, ‘quiet.’ Here you can serenely contemplate that next scene as you sit creek side. It’s cozy and the scenery is beautiful. The accommodations are comfortable and top-notch.
There are many more places in Idyllwild you can stay at. I suggest you Google the town. You’ll be amazed at what you see. But please, please, please don’t tell too many people. I like it without so many tourists. I can’t hear the bears if too many people are romping around in the woods. Oh, I meant I can’t write if I hear too many people. Yeah, that’s it.
Most everyone has heard of and/or been to Big Bear, California. Again in the mountains, it boasts more tourists than Idyllwild. But don’t let the shops and lakes distract you. They too have plenty of boarding in which you can do what you went there to do: write in solitude.
Fortunately, I know someone with a cabin in Big Bear. I love that little retreat. Although much bigger than what I need for little ol’ me and my computer, I go and spend some glorious days hitting my fingers on my keyboard as I look out at the lake. As in Idyllwild, there are many hiking and biking trails here. And there are more people. I suggest if you go here, don’t stay right in town. Here are a few places that might interest you:
Cienaga Creek Ranch flaunts breathtaking views of the Pacific Crest Trail. This place is remote enough to make you feel lost to the rushed, over-populated world, but close enough to everything to remind you that civilization still exists.
Shore Acres Lodge has some nice places to stay as well. Most of the cabins have views of the lake, which we all know is relaxing just to sit and look at. Why not take your computer out and sit on the porch? One or more of their cabins sit right at Big Bear Lake. You can wake up and go outside and watch the sunrise. But then, get to work. You’re up there to write, aren’t you?
Let’s leave the lakes and creeks for a bit and go visit the ocean. The White Water Inn in Cambria seems like a nice place. It’s situated across from the vast area of water and has views where you can sit and watch the waves while penning the next great shark novel. Maybe “Jaws Goes to Cambria” or something.
Breakfast in bed anyone? It seems that the Cambria Shores Inn will bring it to you. What a way to vacation. Get up, have someone serve your morning meal, sit down and start writing. After your fingers have worked up a hunger, you can then walk to the office for snacks. Geesh, you may not need to leave this place. Well you might consider dinner. But not before you get a lot of those chapters done you’ve been putting off.
Okay, enough of California. There’s more on the West Coast to see than that. Come on, let’s take a stroll up to British Columbia. Antoinetta’s West Coast Retreat has a Tahsis heritage home in the original Tahsis Town site. When you need a break, you can hike or go check out the marina. If that doesn’t do it for you, maybe fishing at the Vancouver Island might spark some ideas for your next setting.
Grants Pass in Oregon can be a welcoming refuge from the daily grind. Set on Oregon’s Rogue River, there are many places to stay and visit. Applegate Valley Ranch is in the center of Applegate Valley Wine Trail. But please, no alcohol until you’ve had a full day of typing at least ten full chapters.
Double Tree Ranch near Grants Pass speaks of a secluded and serene setting along the Rogue River. Views aplenty with the river and wooded areas. It just may be inspirational for that horror scene you’re planning to write.
So there are just a few places on the West Coast, throwing British Columbia in the mix that should set your mind to thinking. Get the hand scale going—distracting home life while trying to write the ending of your next great novel vs. a quiet retreat boasting of awesome views and serenity? What will it be?
If the West Coast isn’t for you, stay tuned. Next month, I’ll jump to another part of the United States. In the meantime, start Googling for your private getaway. I know I am.