Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Writers' retreats

Barbara here, still recovering from the hilarious video Rick posted yesterday in honour of Canada Day. It's hotter than Hades up in the True North Strong and Free at the moment, but this being Canada, we relish this incandescent, all too brief flare of summer. We pour out into the countryside in long processions of cars with boats, canoes or tent trailers in tow. Some of us lucky ones visit cottages, especially in Quebec and Ontario, where lakes and loons are everywhere.

Summer invites adventure, togetherness, and leisure. It is a time to explore new challenges but also to laze under the trees or on the beach with a book in hand. As a writer, I find my pace changes in the summer. The deadlines for manuscripts, blogs, social media posts, or whatever may still be there, but they recede in importance as possibilities and distractions stretch out before me. I try to discipline myself to write at least one scene every morning, but I find myself sitting on the dock at my cottage, listening to the birds and watching the baby loons while my pen slips lazily from my hand. I should also add that I have an exuberant Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever who thinks that lake plus ball is one big party time.

Summer is also the season when we reconnect with far-flung family and friends after months of hibernation. Another distraction from the focussed, solitary task of writing! But one of the truly wonderful things – perhaps the most wonderful thing– about being a writer is the community of friends we make. We inspire, encourage and nourish each other, not to mention we share wisdom about the business end of writing. Generally not where our talents and interests lie.

My friends and I have discovered that one of the ways to have our cake and eat it too, or rather to write and party too, is to hold "writers' retreats" at one of our cottages or homes. We have actually held these in all seasons; sitting on the dock at someone's waterfront cottage, or walking through the autumn leaves in another friend's wilderness cabin, or snuggling around the fire in a century-old farmhouse while the snow falls outside. The group varies, depending on who is available and interested (and how many spare beds there are). Sometimes we are three, other times four, even six. I am looking forward to just such a retreat this weekend, at my own cottage. There is always lots of wine, good food, gossip, and laughter. All three of us have writing projects on the go, all have deadlines, self-imposed or contractual. We have promised ourselves that there will be writing every day. We will disperse to a quiet room or deckchair to be alone with our muse for at least a couple of hours before we break out the party and gossip hats.

At least that's the plan. Until the baby loons drift by.

1 comment:

Eileen Goudge said...

Nice to see a hardworking author with her feet up. I have the same IKEA chair. Comfy. As for homegrown writer retreats, I hosted one at the beach in CA last winter, and it was epic. 6 ladies + one house + one compact car + carton of wine = memorable experience