My Silent Hotel Room


My son rowing in The Head of the Oklahoma Regatta (he's tallest in the middle)

Last weekend I drove to Oklahoma City to cheer my son’s crew team.  I went alone.  What this really means is: I left my personal fraternity house (on Pizza Friday) for the absolute solitude of a remote hotel room.  Husband felt sorry to cancel on me, but I pulled out of the driveway before he or anyone could reshuffle their schedules and get in my car.  For three hours I drove, imagining a block of time in a silent hotel room to work on my novel.  No dog jumping on the bed, no boys arguing over TV controllers, no husband expecting ducks in a row.  I was so excited I nearly missed my exit.

Alone in my room, I experienced the joy of thinking in a straight line.  I read without losing my place, revised without stopping and starting, generated ideas without interruptions.  I glided effortlessly through a fertile field of inspiration, stunned by new perspective.  I bloated my notebook with ideas, dispatched research materials that had idled since June, and noticed how quickly the friction-free time was passing.  Too fast.  I hadn’t figured out how all this stuff I’d gathered, informed my subject.  If only I were smarter, had greater capacity, I could close the gap as I went.  By the time I packed my car and headed to the regatta, I felt cerebrally hung over and lacking in accomplishment.

Physically present at the river, but mentally stuck in my head, I actually wished someone would ask me to feed them or find their socks or something, just to help me transition back to reality.  I sat alone by the river and watched boats proceed to their starting line.  While synchronized oars dipped in and out of the water, churning tight puddles in their wake, I stopped thinking entirely, and focused on water dripping from blades.  My ideas drifted away and I let them go.  But instead of dissipating, they found each other and gathered, creating their own wake, returning to me in a current of meaning.  Suddenly, I could see how the new perspective fit perfectly into my back story, illuminated my front story, and allowed me to understand my own novel. 

Driving back to Dallas I refereed an argument via cell phone, remotely directed the pick up of one Boy Scout, and recalled the serene hum of the refrigerator in my hotel room.



Filed under Cindy Jones, teenagers, The art of writing...

12 responses to “My Silent Hotel Room

  1. Bondi Winstel

    I wish I were there with you! know that spot in the middle of the boat where that adorable “tall boy” is sitting? It’s also called the engine seat! Meaning of course that he’s really got what it takes….way to go Daniel!

    • You were there in spirit–I felt your presence! I read your comment to Daniel and he said, “yup.” I wrote the team’s press release for the regatta. Did you note my correct use of the term, blade? There were lots of collegiate teams competing.

  2. What a beautiful illustration of how a busy, creative, supportive wife/mother thinks!
    I love these phrases: “the joy of thinking in a straight line”, “cerebrally hungover” — and the last two paragraphs are so poetically perfect I am in awe!
    The imagery of your ideas drifting and reforming with the moving water is just so lovely and very truthful.
    I have experienced a similar feeling when I was feeling pressured and discontented and then attended a very intimate live acoustical concert, where my mood shifted gradually and I ended up feeling inspired and refreshed down to my soul.
    Water has such a calming effect, it is like nature’s music and rhythm section.
    Thank you for putting into words such lovely thoughts!

    • Thank you for the generous words, it means a lot to me! Water does have a calming effect. I can sit and look at a river going by for a long time. Must be good for one’s blood pressure…

  3. Peggy Richardson

    I really like your essays about your life and writing. Was it Daniel in the middle of crew?

    Also I have two new reconmmendations. Border Songs by Lunch and a historical trilogy, starting with Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillou.

    Border Songs is a little strange but I found it to be loving over all. Road to Jerusalem delighted me with its immersion in 12th Century Sweden (Gotaland?) and the impact of French monks on the ways of life there. I loved the way religious reactions to occurences beyond the perceived normal followed their own logic. Peggy

    • Thank you, yes it is Daniel in the boat. Regattas are a lot of fun to attend, with or without a silent hotel room. I’m glad to know about the books, I’ve put them on my TBR list. 12th Century Sweden sounds facinating.

  4. Peggy Richardson

    That was supposed to be Lynch not lunch. Sorry

  5. Sue S

    Like the other comments I particularly loved how you drew such a mental wonderful picture for us of not only your creativity and life but of the poetry. The last two paragraphs were particularly moving and so charged with meaning & clarity.

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