Wednesday, February 06, 2019

In praise of the writers' retreat

This is going to be a short post because I am far too busy with serious writing work to find time for it. Twice a year I get together with writer pals for a couple of days of synergistic renewal. In the summertime, we get together at my lakeside cottage and in the winter at Robin Harlick's cabin in the pristine woods of West Quebec. We are a core of close friends but not everyone can come every time, so this time we are just three.

We have been doing this for years, and I am a firm believer in the benefits. Writing is a solitary, indeed lonely, profession. Whether we are hunkered down in our garret or sitting in the local Starbucks, we are living in our own heads, talking to our imaginary characters and spinning our own tales. It can get very dark and claustrophobic in there. Getting together for a few days with fellow writers is restorative. We remember how to talk, to laugh, and to reach out in support.

Writers, particularly crime writers, have a unique way of looking at the world and it's a delight to spend time with like-minded individuals. We realize we are not crazy when we obsess about the best places to hide bodies or to cover up a murder. It's very affirming.

Besides helping our sanity and validating our view of the world, writers' retreats are occasions to get inspired, rekindle hope, and solve storyline impasses. Many a plot idea has been generated by the free-flowing, wine-fuelled brainstorming that accompanies the happy hour or the after dinner aperitifs.

The business side of writing is equally confounding, and writers' retreats provide a chance to rant, rave, and problem solve about the promotional side of writing. What works, what is a waste of time, and what does your publisher do about ...? It's also a great place to vent about the frustrations and challenges of this crazy-making business we have chosen. Moreover, the helpful insights and suggestions about the business and the craft of writing are always useful.

And finally, I don't want to understate the power of nature to bring peace and inspiration. Escaping from the clamour and distractions of the city and our busy lives allows us to spend a couple of days focussing on our writing and get on with the stories we want to tell.

All in all, writers' retreats revitalize the soul.

1 comment:

Susan D said...

Wonderful.... you and your writing group have struck pure gold.