I am writing to you today from my friend Ben’s dining room. If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember that he used to live in Seattle, where he was like a Kramer to us, but he moved away for a job. Now he’s in Ohio, and for a week, so am I.

I needed to get some work done on Book 2, and I missed my friend, so I rolled the two into one and called it a writing retreat. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but turns out, it’s like summer camp - only there are no counselors to keep us down, and instead of doing archery and riding horses and gathering around the campfire to sing “Down by the Old Mill Stream,” we sweat painfully over our computers eight hours a day, and then Ben puts The Twist Goes to College on the turntable.

Here’s the schedule. Late each night, we set a time to have coffee the next morning. Then I go to my room, and Ben goes to his. We yell goodnight. We sleep. When the correct hour comes, we meet in the kitchen, where Ben makes Americanos and English muffins. Then he walks the two blocks to his office, and I go to mine, the aforementioned dining room. I untangle the cord to my headphones, put something on repeat (mostly, it’s been Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike”), and smash a mosquito with my copy of Bird by Bird. That book is even more useful than I had given it credit for. A couple of hours later, Ben comes back for lunch. Because it’s very loud here on Planet Hunger Strike, I don’t notice his arrival until he walks into the dining room and I scream. We make lunch. After that, we go back to our desks and work until early evening, when he goes for a run and I go for a walk. At 8:30 pm, no earlier and no later, I make a round of Negronis. Then we cook dinner, and then we do it all over again.

The current tally of mosquito bites is 13, and I’ve added about 3,000 7,000 words to the manuscript. If everything goes the way I want it to, the former should hold steady, while the latter hits 6,000 9,000 (Updated at 6:55 pm, Monday, 8/29). I go home on Wednesday.


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