When you’re waitlisted for the residency you applied for and you’re convinced that being waitlisted is as good as a rejection, you come up with Plan B because your characters are begging for attention, anxious to be nudged from their torpor. So you arrange time off from your day job, secure in the knowledge that your favorite project at work, having jumped an initial hurdle, is now off and running. You go in search of a room you can call your own for five days using the money (plus some) you had set aside for airfare had you gotten the residency.

Room requirements aside from a desk, a bed, a shower, and a fridge and microwave? Minimal travel time from Seattle and a view of the water.

A motel in Bremerton, little more than a ferry ride away, was exactly the thing. I found the Flagship Inn online and read the Yelp reviews. These are the comments that sold me on it:

I’ll be honest, it’s not much to look at when you pull up; it does have some paint peeling on the exterior and its old…. like when you get inside you feel like you just stepped onto an early 80s Golden Girls set.

When I drove up, my first thought was: “What was I thinking?” It looks like something from the pre-Interstate era (which it probably is)…

This is not an up-to-date motel…

Who wouldn’t want to stay here? Plus, each room has a balcony with a view of Oyster view from deskBay, one of the many inlets in the zig-zag of the Kitsap Peninsula. On a clear day, the Olympics are visible. Every day gives a view of water, trees and clouds. The view invites long hours indoors because the street side of the motel is in a commercial zone rampant with fast food restaurants and discount retail.

The balcony caught the late afternoon and early evening sun. It’s where I ate my lunch and dinner. Other amenities included DVD/VCR unit, library in lobby of movie videos, fax machine (!), none of which I availed myself. There was also a tiny exercise room and I did make use of its clanking elliptical.

After my workout each morning, I grabbed oatmeal, fruit, juice, and tea from the continental breakfast bar and ate in my room while I alternately enjoyed my view of the bay and read the news. It was the week of Sally Yates on the stand, James Comey on the L. A. freeway, and Sean Spicer in the bushes.

DeskAfter breakfast, I settled in for the slow slog at the computer. I’ve never been a writer who gets in the zone and bangs feverishly at the keyboard. I do a lot of fidgeting and staring into space or, in this case, out the balcony at the view, every so often tapping a word or two or ten.

I wrote and read for most of the day, breaking to make a salad for lunch and a sandwich for dinner, and leaving the room once each day for a not very interesting walk along the four-lane thoroughfare that fronted the motel. Around ten o’clock each night I turned on the TV. One of the other motel amenities was the daily TV guide – an 8” by 14” sheet of paper delivered each morning by the housekeeping staff. I had little use for it, but it was among the several small gestures of hospitality from this quaint establishment. Oh, and there’s free Wi-Fi and the water pressure in the shower is excellent.

It was a good week. I wrote some new pages, revised many others, and worked through some structural problems for the first section of a new novel. It would’ve been a great View from balconyweek if not for that phone call halfway through from a colleague at work informing me that our beloved project was being shut down. My room with a view of water and trees and clouds and a glimpse of the Olympics was a comfort as I first ranted out loud and then furiously began tapping out a list of arguments for saving the project before eventually refocusing on my novel. But too soon, it was time to leave the world of fictional characters and conflicts for real ones.

Goodbye, Flagship Inn. Goodbye, view. It’s back to the day job.

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