Six days. Six songs.

I need a shower, my lips are dry, all my clothes are dirty, there’s a streetlight that screams into my room at night, am I spending too much money on this?, I’ve definitely gained at least five pounds, I’m not sure any of these songs are any good, in fact I think they might all be the same and can’t I ever write about anything but my unfulfillable desires, my disruptive neuroses? I can’t really communicate with anyone here and I’m tired of being a novelty, an oddity, the only American for miles.

It was hard enough to sell my orchestra colleagues on the idea of this retreat. But these people? The beachside gym plays techno music several times a day, outside my window, and I can see the bobbing heads of an aerobics class. This is a place of hedonistic indulgence, of day drinking, of gelato on every corner.

I am a buzzkill, refusing to leave my desk before noon, too stubborn and absorbed to bother with sightseeing, too exhausted to buy another train ticket.

But still. Six days, six songs. Two poems — the first I’ve finished in years.

Every time I sit down to Do Some Grieving or Do Some Spiritual Work, conditions shift and such work becomes impossible. The finished songs keep me afloat. I keep a list of them on my iPhone, my little tether to the world. As a songwriter I’m an amateur; I have so much work ahead of me and by the time I’m any good my face will look even older than it does now. Seriously, what is happening to my face? Was it all those weeks, months, years that Mom was dying? I feel unfairly aged and furious.

Six days, six songs, two poems, a journal full of things that didn’t exist before. Sometimes the writing feels like squeezing toothpaste from a stubborn tube. As if by magic, this is the day that Andrew agrees to produce my solo record in September. And there’s something to put on the record. Because of these six days, these six lonely and difficult and good days.