Intentional Retreats

I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea always makes me think of Cape Cod, where I’ve spent time every summer for many, many years. The tides, the gulls, the children’s splashes and laughs, it all combines with the sunscreen and the taste of lobster to add up to peace, calm and happiness. It’s a retreat from the day to day. My time on Cape Cod influenced my first published piece, “The Echoes of Infinity.”

Thursday I’m heading to Sinsinawa Mound in southwestern Wisconsin for a different retreat – the Hairshirt Retreat for women writers. Last year when I attended, I was wrapping up a draft of my first novel, preparing it to submit to Antonya Nelson for my mentorship with her at the Tin House Conference. This year, that novel is visiting agents, looking for a home. My plans for work for this retreat are more varied than last year – I’m going with two stories and one novel in progress. Tonight and tomorrow, I intend to reread that novel draft and begin the process of outlining where the novel is and where it could go. Which will I work on at the retreat? I don’t know yet; and, I’m not worried.

I will be “conscious of living” as I write – not distracted by laundry, dishes, meal planning, grocery shopping, etc. I know what a gift this time is — I am truly grateful for it. Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, speaks of artist dates, a time to explore and regenerate — a mini-retreat. If you can’t take a long weekend away from your life, can you steal three hours at some point? Can you spend time in a new coffee shop, a new library, an independent book store, and live with your work in progress for some precious time? If you need a writing retreat, how can you make it happen?

(Note: blogpost first appeared at Finding Meaning With Words.)