A note from Vandy Prof David Wood (who thinks out of boxes) has pointed me back to his excellent Stone piece from last December on writer's cabins [huts, Little Houses, shacks], and that in turn to John Llewelyn's "endorsement."
Llewelyn, who writes mostly in Edinburgh, notices the real point of the writing retreat: it's supposed to be a place, even more an atmosphere, in which the writer is freed from distraction and can turn more attentively to the deployment of thoughts and feelings via words.
Then, he correctly extends the impulse to get away and get into a space of solitude to readers. "A reader with any chance of penetrating below the surface of things needs 'somewhere...free of distraction.'"
And he asks:
Did DW write his piece about the cabin in the cabin in question...? Or did he write it in his study at home? Or did he write it in his office at the University? Or did he write different pieces of the piece in more than one of these places?And I ask: where do any of us really write? That is, not where do we sit or stand or recline as the words tumble from brain to pencil or pen or keyboard or digital recorder, but where are we when the pre-verbal, pre-coalescent half-thoughts and affective twinges first knock on consciousness's door? Where we transcribe is less interesting than where we begin to think.
What I call my thinking begins in motion, on foot or pedaled wheels. Almost without exception, and increasingly with pocketed iPhone off. Freedom from distraction is not a place, it's a process. An intention. A habit. A state of mind. No path is long enough to reach it, so we walkers-from-distraction keep on walking every day.
So I too offer an endorsement, of both David Wood's hut appreciation and John Llewelyn's closing nod at the long and winding trail. "The writer’s study at home and his office at the university and the remote cabin in the wilderness confer with each other. They do this by deferring to each other and to the trails between them..."
Yes: to the trails!