Writer's Retreat Or Shining

Just a couple weeks ago I wrote abut running away, I mean, making a tour of the small publishing industry in the US. A couple things have come up since then which have left me more indecisive than ever, and I'm considering going on a writer's retreat instead. Not an official one, though I suppose I should look into that as well. But I've made the accidental discovery that people who own vacation homes in the mountains and on the beaches have increasingly upgraded them to be year round dwellings, but still only spend the summer there. Many of these now get rented out for September 1st through May 1st. I wouldn't be shocked if some end up with house sitters, just so they don't sit there empty.

Of course, there's always the Shining risk, going insane and typing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" over and over all winter, getting locked in a walk-in freezer, seeing ghosts and all that sort of thing. But there's something to be said for trying a new place when you've fallen into a rut, and I've always been much more productive when I get off by myself. I'm also reluctant to commit myself to any deal that would prevent me from getting to Jerusalem this winter, and maybe beating my nine-years-in-the making Serial Tourist's Guide To Jerusalem into some sort of publishable shape.

New Hampshire seems the most likely state for off-season vacation rentals, primarily on lakes or the sea shore. Some include heat in the price, which implies the owners never shut down cold (what I'd do if I left a home in New England for the winter), and based on the number of listings in mid-July, I'm betting the availability is will be pretty high by August when the procrastinators get off the stick. I spent a winter living in a beach-front rental in New Jersey twenty odd years ago, and while I didn't get any writing done, I certainly drank like a literary lion. It's also interesting to note that sabbatical sublets are often advertised as writing retreats, homes near universities with decent book collections. Maybe that's just what I need, a sabbatical year, take a break and wash my brain from all this whatever it is I do.

Or is this all a huge overreaction to the personalized recommendation from Amazon that I purchase "Self Publishing for Dummies?"


Robert Burton Robinson said...

Self Publishing for Dummies? Apparently there is a dummies book for every possible subject now. I even saw "Sex for Dummies" in a bookstore the other day.

I'm not sure I like this trend of publishers deciding what will sell and then getting somebody to write the book. In some cases, that writer might be quite knowledgeable on the subject, but oftentimes I'm not so sure.

And then you've got bookstore chains taking over publishing by, in effect, doing their own dummies books on gardening and cooking and even Beatles photo books, etc. And some of it is pretty good, but still I don't like the trend since it seems like we could be headed to a time when the CEO of B&N or Borders decides what books we need and those are the only ones that get published.

Thank goodness for POD and Amazon. And thank YOU for giving so much valuable information on your site.

Robert Burton Robinson

Nicholas said...

Shutting down heat in a New England home would lead to burst pipes, a much more costly expense than leaving the heat on low for a few months. ;)

Interesting idea though, getting some use out of those near-abandoned affluent homes.


Morris Rosenthal said...


Believe it or not, I kind of respect Barnes&Noble for their publishing efforts, because they've done it so intelligently. While they've done some nonfiction how-to series that look like work-for-hire garbage, they do a nice job with the classics, and when it comes to out-of-copyright books, they have as much right to publish them as anybody else. They've also been very up-front about it, Riggio has been talking up their publishing ambitions for years. It's one of the things that helps them compete with Amazon.

Borders, on the other hand, seems to be trying to get into the fiction publishing business, which just strikes me as weird. I don't understand what makes them think they have an advantage there, I don't think people will buy a lot of novels just because Borders shelves them. Maybe they think it's easy or something:-)

Amazon, so far, has been mixed as a publisher. They did spend some effort on Shorts, their ebooks by "name" authors, and they did a huge out-of-copyright thing with ebooks a few years back, but I haven't quite figured out their BookSurge strategy, where they seem to want to be all things to all people. They're going pushing author services (subsidy publishing) trade backlist POD and small publisher POD all at the same time.


Morris Rosenthal said...


I'm not sure what it would cost to pay a plumber to shut down a house, but I have friends who do the Florida migration every year, and do their own shutdown, which doesn't cost a dime. You have to drain everything, of course, but the main hassle is arranging for snow removal on sidewalks and cleaning out the deep freeze before going - an extended power outage once left them with a freezer full of rotten meat.

But it wouldn't surprise me to hear that some people turn off their toilets, flush them a few times and forget that the water pipes are full, and come home to a cracked boiler and burst out pipes.