I retreated to a lake in York County at the end of August, taking along my computer, comfy clothes and some food. My only job for a couple of days was to write, write some more, and talk about writing with the other four retreat-goers. I did a lot of work on a revision project and refined a query letter for a finished manuscript, doodled some ideas for short stories and read several written by others.
It was heaven.
I’ve done writing retreats before, both with others and on my own. I’ve almost always landed in beautiful places that feed my soul. One year I went to East Boothbay for the Maine Writers and Publisher’s Alliance’s fall writing retreat, where I holed up in a tiny cottage and wrote all day while the other participants were attending workshops, joined the group for dinner and readings, then retreated back to my little nest and wrote deep into the night. The instructional time no doubt would have been helpful, but what I craved was time to write, alone and away from my day-to-day routine.
I’ve relished solo retreats in Stockton Springs in the dead of winter and West Bath in the fall, on a hot July weekend at a cottage on a lake in Waterford, and during the spring warbler migration at a friend’s house on Cliff Island. Several years I’ve been blessed with quiet time to write at a magical place near my old house on Peaks Island.
And as regular readers of this blog know, each August I spend two weeks at a little cottage on the shore in Brooklin, a vacation from my day job and a chance to dive head-first into my writing.
Last weekend’s retreat was a wonderful hybrid. A small group of writers gathered at a spacious lakefront house for two days. We each staked out writing space where we spent the daylight hours by ourselves, writing, revising, writing some more. We convened in the evening to read from our work and talk about where we’re trying to go with it. The evening conversations were freewheeling and constructive, hilarious and dead serious. I came away with a lot to chew on in the coming months.
Writing’s a solitary endeavor. We’re on our own when we sit down at the keyboard, alone with our thoughts, our characters, our goals and our anxiety about not being able to pull it off, whatever “it” is. But when it’s time to take a break from putting words to page, I’m grateful to my writing community—this blog, gatherings like the Maine Crime Wave and colleagues with whom I can spend time at a lake house—helping each other keep it all in perspective.
Brenda Buchanan brings years of experience as a journalist and a lawyer to her crime fiction. She has published three books featuring Joe Gale, a newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. She is now hard at work on new projects. FMI, go to http://brendabuchananwrites.com
NOTES: For those looking to engage with the writing community, MWPA and Colby College are sponsoring a Literary Festival in Portland and Waterville at the end of this month. FMI: https://www.mainewriters.org/maine-lit-fest
Also, this year’s MWPA Fall Writing Retreat will be October 14-16 in Phippsburg. FMI: https://www.mainewriters.org/harvest-writers-retreat