My family sent me for a writing retreat as a gift for Mother’s Day last year and it was a total hit. I had such a fulfilling adventure that I indirectly reminded my husband how much I appreciated the gift again this year as Mother’s Day drew near. Since I knew he was fishing for ideas I guessed the power of suggestion for this recycled present couldn’t hurt. I was right. I made it easy for him and he believes he thought of it (I’m crafty like that).
I’m at a spa so I have access to treatments and delicious food. Hours of writing punctuated by massages and leisurely hikes as a reward for my hard work is almost too luxurious. But, believe me when I tell you that I’m getting more writing done in two days here than I could ever get done in two weeks at home. The ability to be ‘away’ from it all and under the influence of complete relaxation and a glass of wine (or two) is the best writing muse ever.
I’ve researched ‘real’ writer’s retreats where wordsmiths take up residence together. I can only imagine the inspiration and connections that I’d make with these artists would be nourishing. I almost attended one a few months back through Writer’s Circle Workshops in New Jersey, a nurturing group where I attend a weekly novel continuum with YA author, Jennifer Walkup. But, fitting it into my schedule was near impossible.
My goals for the writing retreat have been lofty but attainable. Last year I endeavored to mold my manuscript into a very loose (about the consistency of rice cereal for a four month old) form. I’ve spent this year enriching that form with character development, plot structure and narrative arch. The main purpose of this year’s retreat is to get the novel wrangled into a readable draft. I’m on track because after being here two days I can see it morphing into a much thicker consistency (think that of actual Rice Krispies). Beta readers get ready.
At home I’m pulled away from my novel in favor of other writing activities with more concrete payoffs. I write posts for my blog, create and submit freelance pieces to various outlets, and I attend conferences. I also participate in an intensive personal essay writing class with Susan Shapiro in New York City. Susan guides my essays into shape and invites me to Q&A panels with respected editors. These experiences, while obligatory if I want to see growth as a professional writer, are time consuming.
I value my writing retreat because I can devote time to my labor of love without regret. I’m invigorated.
I’m so thankful that my husband and kids give me this experience every year (hint, hint). It means so much. They respect that I value my alone time and they should since they generally monopolize so much of it (kidding, not kidding). They show that they are self-sufficient even though I believe they subscribe to the ‘cat and mouse’ element of this whole set-up. I would love to engage in a FaceTime tour of the house right now as I’m sure unmade beds and dirty dishes prevail. Most important, they show me (even the third one who braved two nights without me there for midnight for cuddles) that they support me.