Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In praise of the writers' retreat

Barbara here, writing from the idyllic shores of Sharbot Lake in classic Canadian cottage country. It is 34 degrees celsius in the city and here on the lake, it is a balmy 29. My cottage has no air conditioning, but who needs it when you can roll into the lake every half hour or so as the whim strikes?

I am lucky enough to have a group of writer friends who live within reasonable distance, allowing us to get together to inspire, commiserate, offer answers, and generally help soothe the solitary angst of a fiction writer. Every writer needs the company of our own kind. No matter how supportive our family or spouse is, no one understands the struggles of writers' block, the teeth-gnashing frustration of publishing, and the exhilaration of a good review better than a fellow writer. I would never have believed in myself nor had the courage to keep going if it hadn't been for the critiquing help and enduring friendship of the Ladies Killing Circle – Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken, Sue Pike, Joan Boswell, and Vicki Cameron – each with their own special talents.

I have always loved nature and find the peace of water, birds, and silence to be the perfect creative environment. I bought my cottage especially as a haven where I could write, far from the demands and hubbub of the city, and I still do my best creative writing on the dock by the lake. This week, as in the past few years, I am hosting an informal writers' retreat for some of my friends, inviting them to share the peace and inspiration of the cottage while we all work on our own projects. RJ Harlick and Vicki Delany have joined me.

The weather is cooperating magnificently. This afternoon, after a morning of writing, we all swam out into the lake with our noodles and spent a half hour bobbing in the cool water, discussing book launches and tours. Yesterday it was how to move the plot forward from a stuck place. There was admittedly some book gossip and rants about the book biz, mostly fuelled by wine at the end of the day. And the dinners were delightful. The perfect way to finish the day.

In this photo, we enjoy Robin's dinner of herb-crusted chicken, chanterelles picked from her woods, and tomatoes with bufala mozzarella and fresh arugula from her garden. And we capped off the day with a refreshing moonlight swim under the full moon.

Thanks to the example of hard-working friends and the discussion of plot tangles, I have made some headway on my new novel, the second in the Amanda Doucette novel. I hope these memories will sustain me during the cold, dark days of February.


RJ Harlick said...

I am having a delightful time and am managing to get a word or two down on paper. You have a fabulous place, Barbara. Thanks.

Eileen Goudge said...

Idyllic indeed! What a gorgeous retreat. My band of writer friendss meet at the beach in Santa Cruz, CA each year for a long weekend. We call ourselves the Beach Babes. Maybe it should be the Book Babes. But it's always a treat and we come away reinvigorated about our projects and renewed in our fellowship. Everyone writer should have this.