17 Quiet Days to Write

Posted Apr 21, 2018

You know you’ve been in a hotel a long time when you start making your own bed. You know you’ve been in a hotel a really long time when Michael, the creepy morning room-service guy, notices you’ve changed your order. “I see you’ve got bacon this morning,” he says, making me shudder. “You are really going to like it.” Yesterday, he complimented my pill box.

I’ve spent 13 nights in the University of Dayton Marriott as one of two 2018 Humorists-in-Residence. I thought by now I’d have a Cheers-like familiarity with the staff. “Hey Sheila, how’s that hip?” I’d say upon exiting the elevator. Alas, it’s only unnerving Michael I know by name.

The truth is, I spend most of my time propped on the settee by the window, staring at my computer screen, with the door locked. It’s sort of my dream come true, although I do worry that I’m becoming odd. Today I ate a lunch of crackers, cheese sticks, and an ageing orange I brought all the way from California. But that’s not the weird part. The weird part was that I ate it on my bed, wearing nothing by underpants. How quickly we lapse when no one is watching.

But losing my social graces is a small price to pay for these 17 quiet days in which to write, think, and fall asleep to Netflix. My regular, at-home life is filled, as many lives are, with making a living, keeping my children fed, trying to schedule a conversation with my husband, and making sure we don’t all end up having to tunnel our way out from a pile of laundry, or dishes, or cat hair.

Since I’ve been here I’ve written two new chapters of my book-in-progress, and four short humor pieces with specific publications in mind. The former were always part of the plan. The latter were motivated by Karen Chee, my fellow humorist-in-residence, and a delightful young phenom who laps me while I eat crackers in my underwear. Nothing like the success of someone half your age to light a fire under your butt.

I keep a tally of my output because I feel almost guilty to have been gifted this experience. (Female. Jewish. I didn’t stand a chance.) But the corny truth is, these 17 days can’t be tallied because aside from what I actually write in Dayton, the effects are more far reaching.

It’s nearly impossible to know how my two solitary weeks away from my life will play out. Perhaps I’ll finish this book. Perhaps I’ll become an EBWW regular. Perhaps I’ll try my hand at stand-up. Or, perhaps I’ll disappear without a trace. In which case, find Michael the room service guy because it was definitely, definitely him.

— Samantha Schoech

Samantha Schoech, a writer, copywriter and editor from San Francisco, has published fiction and non-fiction pieces in Seventeen, Glimmer Train, the Sun, The New York Times, and other magazines and literary journals. She’s co-edited two books, The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image and Other Hazards of Being Female and Tied in Knots: Funny Stories from the Wedding Day. Currently program director of Independent Bookstore Day, she has taught writing at bookstores, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, Davis, where she earned a master’s degree in English and creative writing.