Strategic Retreat

A couple of weekends back I went off to a writing retreat with some folks from my writing group and other assorted author friends. The trip was amazing in many ways, despite the evil snow that wouldn’t let us get up the mountain, and I can’t wait to do it again.

The retreat was nothing fancy — five days at a house in Woodstock. But my first real vacation in a long time. Five days where I had nothing to do except write, write, and write. It was a productive trip for me; several scenes on my YA novel written, a whole short story drafted, some serious background work on other stories, and relaxation. Oh the pleasure of actual relaxation.

A couple of people asked me how the retreat was different from/better than Clarion (where I had 6 whole weeks in which to write). I wouldn’t say that the retreat was better, just a different experience. We weren’t up there to critque stories (though some of us did) and when I wrote, I didn’t have a deadline. If something wasn’t working out, I could put it aside without worring that I wouldn’t get something done in time for the crit session. Clarion is really valuable, but it’s also a bit of a pressure cooker. In a good way, I still feel, but I wouldn’t go to Clarion to relax.

It was also really lovely to know that all I had to do all day was write, eat, and meditate. I sometimes forget how much of my day is filled with crap and the demands of others until I go away. And even when I go home for the holidays or to a convention, there are still demands on my attention and time.

Obviously I’m keen to do another retreat. We’re planning to do another this summer and, hoopefully, yet another in the fall. I plan to get away for retreats, even small 3-day ones, as much as possible. Of course I’m constrained, as always, by work and money. These are the times I long for a socialist utopia!