An empty hotel room, a non-leaky pen, and thou, my precious manuscript! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Writers and hotels just seem to go together, both fictionally and in real life. The dad in Stephen King’s The Shining just wanted to get away from everything for a winter and WRITE. (It turned out horribly.) Maya Angelou (in an interview with The Paris Review – blurbed by google but with a broken link) said she’d rent a hotel room for a few months, leave home at six, and then write in the room (which had amenities such as a bible, a bath, a thesaurus and a dictionary, according to a Daily Beast article).
It’s alleged that Agatha Christie (who Kay Keppler wrote about on Thursday) wrote Murder on the Orient Express in Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul. (Istanbul is the southern terminal of the railroad.) The hotel is also part museum, and has an Agatha Christie Room with antique furniture and Christie’s books AND the Agatha Restaurant, a smart-casual dining room.
Scores of businesses offer writers the opportunities to retreat to a cabin in the woods, or on the beach, or in the middle of a city, to spend a weekend writing and talking with their fellow writers.
I thought Damon Knight (in his Creating Short Fiction) talked about a writer who would meditate on a story for three months then go to a hotel room and type for 30 hours straight . . . but it turned out I misremembered. I bought the book again, but this time the digital version so I could search it, and it seems it wasn’t a cheap motel, but a *specially designed cubicle, smaller than a telephone booth*. I suppose a modern hotel room would have too many distractions for that kind of writer (the bath, the Gideon bible, the cable TV and wifi).
Of course, in this Time of Corona, germophobes like me are not going to a hotel to write. I keep remembering articles that say coronaviruses survive on plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours, wood for four days, and glass for five days. Ugh.
But still, it’s fun to dream.
Sei Shonagon was writing in Japan around the year 1000 — but didn’t have the luxury of an inn. She had to make do with the palace. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
My friend sent me a fun article about a Japanese inn that offers a writer’s service for real writers or for those who just want to cosplay. The staff calls themselves the Editing Department, you can book a service that holds the key to your hotel safe so you can lock your phone inside, or you can pay extra to have actors pretending to be your secret lover and your spouse run into each other – to get that olde-timey dramatic writer experience! (Debt collectors also available.)
The heroine of the article, ChieVampire, goes to get some real work done, and it’s entertaining to follow her evening and morning at the traditional hotel. The Homeikan in Tokyo has quite a few entertaining programs in their three historic buildings, and when a vaccine’s been discovered, I want to go and try out the Monster Event* or the Literary Retreat Plan. It does seem like a quite reasonable price, and I’ll be sure to pack my longest extension cord and pocket wi-fi.
On this longing note of nostalgia and yearning, have you been on a dream retreat, or do you have one that you’d like to go to some day? (-: I know Kay’s talked about creating her own writing retreat.
*I don’t know an easy way to get this link in English. If you cut and paste 鳳明館幽霊 (Homeikan ghosts) into Google, look for the “jibunmedia.publishers” link, and click on translate this page.