Hi. I'm Jenna McGuiggan.
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In which I warm-up for my writing retreat.

scene from today's walk (iphone)

This is me writing a blog post as a warm-up exercise. I'm in Vermont for a few days, squirreled away in a friend's garret for a bit of a writing retreat.

This is me wondering if the Twitter/Facebook update I wrote earlier today counts as writing.

This is me looking out the tall arched window at the bare tree branches, the green hill beyond them, and the line of staunch evergreens on the hill beyond that.

This is me putting one letter in front of another. Earlier today I took a walk in the woods, one foot in front of the other, crunching and bustling the fallen leaves with every step. It was so quiet out there that when I  stopped and stood still, I could hear the carpet of leaves shifting back into position, rebounding from where I had trod. They sounded like Rice Krispies in milk.

This is me wondering if writing retreats are a bad idea. There's too much pressure. But then I remember that I supposedly work well under pressure. Maybe I need to set a specific goal, such as to write a certain number of pages. Then the pressure, I mean the goal, would be measurable and achievable.

This is me thinking about an essay I've been trying to write. It involves a shaman, a Nashville youth pastor with pink hair, and an Eastern Orthodox nun. (I know that sounds like the beginning of a joke.)

This is me noticing that the blue sky beyond the hill of evergreens is deepening to royal denim blue as dusk settles in.

This is me hearing a lamp buzz at regular intervals.

This is me thinking about how lovely the end-of-day words are: dusk, twilight, gloaming.

This me pretending to write. (Am I fooling anyone yet?)

This is me looking at a stack of books and knowing that as important as the practice of reading is to the practice of writing, I can't let myself fall back on it all week long.  Maybe a bargain with myself? For every page I write I can read for 20 minutes?

This is me thinking about dinner. I heard there's going to be pesto. I love pesto.

This is me opening a file and typing, "A shaman, a nun, and a youth pastor walk into a bar."

This is me thinking about the horse riding lesson my friend will give me tomorrow morning. It will be my second time ever on a horse.

This is reminding myself that the writing doesn't have to be any good yet. It just needs to come into existence. One letter in front of another.

This is me hearing a dog bark.

This is me breathing.

This is me hitting publish and setting a level of measurable pressure with a tangible reward: three pages of the shaman/nun/pastor essay, to be written after dinner. And then I can read for an hour.

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