The Joy of a Writing Retreat

I can't wait to be back on this porch, watching deer and seeking inspiration.

I’ll be away from this blog all week, as I’m heading toward my annual writing retreat in the mountains. There’s no Internet. No email. No cell phone reception. So please comment as usual, and I’ll respond when I readjust to civilization.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of a cabin in the woods where I could tuck myself into a story. This retreat, in southern Oregon, fulfills that long-ago wish, and I’m so thankful to be participating for the third year in a row. Having an uninterrupted week to work on my novel is such a gift. The last two years I returned with insights that never would have developed without the luxury of uninterrupted hours piled atop each other.

This year, there will be several women writers in the bunkhouse, which is a giant cabin broken into individual suites with their own kitchens. I plan to spend my days waking up at sunrise to work on my manuscript, occasionally pausing to cook or take walks or read a craft book.

This is the mill pond near our bunkhouse. Gorgeous isn't it?

Each evening, after our productive and introspective days, we’ll gather in someone’s room or on the deck to discuss how our work is going, what breakthroughs we’ve achieved and what’s making us stumble. We’ll share snacks and beverages. We’ll talk about why we write. And we’ll read pages aloud. That’s my favorite part of every day: coming together.

I’m indebted to the awe-inspiring poet Kate Gray for inviting me to this special place three years ago. That year, she brought along her friend Minton Sparks, a spoken word poet from Tennessee. If you haven’t heard of her, go check out her site, or better yet, look at her performance schedule and see if you can catch her live. To entice you, here’s the first paragraph of Minton’s bio:

It’s mighty hard to envision singular performances by a poet and short story author, a character actor and a songwriter being offered on a single bill. That is, until one Minton Sparks takes the stage. For she is all three, a lean, literate livewire in a flower print church dress who balances writerly, theatrical and musical gifts as easily as she balances the prop pocketbook on her slender wrist.

Minton is an unforgettable force of language and spirit. For sure I’ll be packing her CDs so I can hear her voice if I get lonely on this quiet journey. 

Enjoy your week! I hope it’s a productive one.

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
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15 Responses to The Joy of a Writing Retreat

  1. Nice! Jealous! That sound amazing! Matt and I are also off on a vacation (sans twins!) but I don’t think I’ll get much writing done… 😉

  2. I hope you have fun and a very productive week! I’m very jealous! 😉

  3. Is that Wild Acres? I went to a workshop in the mountains of North Carolina that looks very similar to those pictures. It was a truly amazing experience! I hope you have a great time!

  4. This looks and sounds amazing! What a wonderful retreat location; have a wonderful week!

  5. Have a wonderful week, Laura. It looks like such a beautiful place!

  6. Jo Eberhardt says:

    I had to close my browser and stomp around the house in jealousy after I read this post. Then I felt horribly guilty, and came back to say, “Have a great time!” I’m sure you’ll get a lot of writing done, and a well-deserved break from the rest of the world. 🙂

    • Hee hee, Jo! You made me grin. I got so much accomplished, made a new friend and feel like I’m back in control of my novel. But I suppose I’ll post all that tomorrow since I haven’t unpacked my camera yet.

  7. This sounds like an absolute DREAM. I hope you have an amazing time!

    Once you get back, I’d love you to answer this question: how scary was it, going there the first time? I feel very intimidated around other writers, since it’s still hard for me to really claim that I’m a writer, even though I know that I am one. I would be so terrified and in awe of the others who have been there longer than myself, who have had more experience. I would also be scared of the whole experience turning into some sort of contest, since, as in any profession or calling, writers too have their ego games.

    • Great question, and I’d be curious about other folks’ experiences if they want to chime in! I tend toward shy, but after a lot of years of practice, I adore being around other writers. This retreat, moreover, is informal–no classes or teacher or anything–and we invite our writer friends to attend. Since I was the organizer, I sent notes to people I know from writing groups, people I’ve studied with around the table and people my writing friends know. As it turns out, between several cancelations, a last-minute emergency and how busy the summer is for everyone, there were only two of us, plus a writer-in-residence living on the property for the semester. So it was very low-pressure! I’ll write more about what we actually did tomorrow. But this particular retreat is definitely about the work, rather than social networking. I’d totally recommend going somewhere with a few writers you know, if you want to try out the retreat experience. That way you know everybody’s going to be encouraging. Besides, after spending hours alone with your work, it’s so necessary to be around friendly, supportive writers so you can talk about your experiences.

  8. tamarapaulin says:

    Sounds incredible! Makes me remember the wonderful days as a kid going off to summer camp!

    • It’s exactly like that, Tamara! And I’ve come home with a new friend, lots of pages and the joy of remembering that special week away.

      Thanks to everyone for your great notes. It was fun to open my computer this morning and find all of your comments here. What a nice way to come home! I’ll definitely post a retreat wrapup and some photos tomorrow morning once I get settled in.

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