It’s a week after I got home from my first ever writer’s retreat.
I took the past week to sleep, veg, and not work, but I can’t not to a post about how incredible an experience this was.
How totally worth being awake for 26 straight hours at the end of it.
First off, can we just take a moment to appreciate this view?
The first two days were cool and cloudy, with mist rising from the mountains every morning (followed by a windstorm that had the walls bowing in before it knocked out the power), but day three was all sun and an incredible sunset.
I had my first taste of spring while I was here and, believe it, it was a little painful to go back home to a snowstorm that brought about 12cms.
But weather aside.
I went to this retreat not knowing anyone in person, having only connected with everyone via Twitter (thanks social media!).
Fortunately, in this day of constant chatting, there was none of the awkwardness I might have expected. We kind of just fell into chats exactly where we left off, and the same was true when we finally reached the cabin after a lot of traffic and quite a fun GPS-led detour through the mountains.
The cabin was beautiful, though kettle-less, and I like to think that I proved my worth by the sheer amount of maple products I brought with me to spread the Canadian hospitality in Tennessee.
What can I say of the rest of the weekend? To some people it might have seemed the most boring of events, and not worth the time and money. I didn’t take in any sights, I didn’t experience any of the surrounding area that I couldn’t see from the balconies.
The moment i arrived, I got into pyjamas, and stared there until we left on Monday morning.
IT WAS WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY AND MINUTE.
Every morning I woke up, grabbed my gear, and headed for the common room. Every day, I sat down to work, chatted with my fellow authors (and now friends) about life, sure, but more importantly about writing and publishing and plot issues and—and aimed to hit my writing goal.
WHICH I DID, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Ten thousand words a day, for three days straight.
You know the last time I did that?
The result is by the end of the weekend I had reached 30k into a brand new draft.
There was nothing else for me to do. No other responsibilities beyond keeping myself fed. The only focus was getting those words down—and I loved every second of it.
I got to know my characters better than I have yet. We spent a good eight hours a day together, my trio and me. People have died, emotions have been piqued, and shit is getting real.
Much as I loved the work (and really miss that dedicated focus with no deadlines and nothing else pressing on me) my favourite time was day was dinner. While the rest of the meals were fend-for-yourselves, dinner time was a social event. All eight of us around one big table, with all the stories and laughs and getting to know each other.
After dinner desserts and drinks and, on two of the nights, the board games came out.
You want to know how to terraform Mars? I know some people who can now help you with that. Alas, I didn’t learn much of the game, because that was Windstorm night, and I quickly retreated downstairs where the walls DIDN’T look about to cave fall in on us.
Marry Mr. Darcy, however… This is a game I will likely purchase for myself, though who you play with probably makes more of a difference than the game itself. But I swear, fights were about to break out over not marrying Wickham, and, frankly, who can blame them?
It was sad to leave. More than three days probably would have burned me out at the pace I was going, but it also didn’t seem like enough.
But it does motivate me to try to get to know some local authors and make some closer connections. To have people nearby who understand the pains and gains of putting words down in good orders to tell the story that is so clear in our heads, to nitpick plot points and settle word choices, to encourage and motivate just as I’m encouraged and motivated—there’s nothing really like it.
I’m going to end on that note, because it’s the point that makes me happiest. If you want to know more about my delayed journey home (which resulted in an extra seven thousand words and a few missing layers of my sanity), feel free to check out my twitter feed. Good times.
I feel so lucky, and so grateful, and I can’t wait until the next one!