“I’m sorry,” Leanna texted me. “My life is just so crazy right now.”
“Everything is wonderful and there is no drama at my Writing Oasis,” I replied. “Just hurry up and get here.”
My dear bosom companion and book release-date sister Leanna Renee Hieber joined me here in Florida for two weeks in February for our Florida Fabulosity Book Tour, but she was not my first Writer in Residence. That honor belongs to K. Tempest Bradford.
I saw Tempest when I was in NY for BEA last June. She was contemplating giving up her very expensive (and falling to pieces) apartment in NYC and couch surfing with all of her great friends who lived all over the country. I knew where she was coming from — I contemplated this very thing when I left Virginia. But, having previously been a homeowner, I have STUFF, so I require a home base. In fact, I had just put an offer in on a house in Florida. It needed a LOT of work.
“When are you thinking of doing this?” I asked Tempest.
“Oh, sometime after New Year’s.”
“Come stay with me in February,” I told her. “Leanna and I will be gone a lot of the time on book tour anyway. You’ll have the place to yourself. It will be perfect.” Seven months away. Surely whatever renovations we needed to do would be completed by February.
As you’ve probably guessed, the house needed a lot more work than anyone expected. It was not finished by February. In fact, the day before Tempest flew in, Dad was frantically installing a broken countertop and sink that we duct taped together so that the house would *have* a kitchen sink. I don’t have a stove either — there’s a toaster oven, and Mom & Dad’s camping cooktop are out on my back porch. Along with my microwave. And the gas grill. And the washer and dryer maybe don’t fit perfectly in place, but they’re hooked up. And the master bathroom still needs a complete overhaul…but who’s going to see the master bathroom but me anyway?
I worked so hard the week before Tempest arrived that I spent the first three days she was here asleep from exhaustion. The house is maybe 75% done…but an acceptable 75%.
And then all renovation stopped. From that moment forward, my home became The Writing Oasis.
That part WAS perfect.
I have lived on my own since I was nineteen, but I’ve always been in the shadow of a bad relationship…be it a horrible guy or a horrible job. It’s a little surreal to be in this place–MY place–and be doing in this place things I want to do…namely writing…with people I want to do it with.
I go for a walk in the mornings. Sometimes Tempest comes with me, sometimes not. Sometimes I pick Mom up on the last loop, sometimes not. We share the grocery buying, and the cooking (we have had some of the most fabulous meals–who needs an oven?). Sometimes we have writing sprints. Sometimes we wake up at 3am and get more work done. All of this is okay.
When Leanna arrived, she fit right into the routine. We lit tons of candles and wrote on the porch until 1am, listening to movie soundtracks and the eerie sound of the geckos serenading us from the creek in the backyard. We played music and had impromptu dance parties. We took care of each other. We went to the beach on a cloudy day. We made s’mores over the fire pit. I had guest stars on my Fairy Tale Rant videos. We invited my parents and Tempest’s friend Marianne for a cookout one afternoon and had a ball. I got to be a HOSTESS, for the first time in maybe ten years. I forgot how much I missed it.
And I loved every minute of it.
I had been joking to Leanna about the Oasis…but that’s how we began referring to this place, and it’s stuck. Milton the Flamingo watches the front yard. The gnomes hang out back. The hawk comes to play sometimes, and there are butterflies aplenty.
Tempest and I worked so well together (and we’ve been getting so much work done) that she extended her stay until the end of March. I began to worry about what my life would be like when she left. So I booked another Writer.
The day after Tempest leaves, Denny S. Bryce arrives.
DENNY MERMAID IN THE OASIS! I CANNOT TELL YOU how excited this makes me!!! But now I’m torn between booking more Writers in Residence and working with Dad to finish this darn house. <groan>
So…what would you have in YOUR perfect Writing Oasis?