Why would anyone want to spend the weekend in a beautiful location, such as a cabin in the woods, or a cottage on the beach, only to stay holed up inside clutching a book or working on their computer?
What kind of people stay up all night, staring at screens or discussing plot revisions until their jaws tire and eyes close?
Writers, of course.
At least, that’s what my critique group has done for the past five years, and we love it.
Because it is our time. No families, no day jobs (well, maybe there were a few phone calls, texts, and emails; we do tend to be responsible folk). Nothing to do but focus on various aspects of writing and socializing with like-minded friends; you know, the ones who totally get you.
It’s not all word counts and red pens, though. We have fun, too. We eat very well, all sharing in the meals and snacks, laying out a veritable cornucopia of delectable edibles. And yes, we drink, primarily in the evening when it’s time to loosen up.
We play games, like Cards Against Humanity, which was a hoot and half with our group. We also do a naughty/gag gift white elephant gift exchange, which never fails to make us laugh. Creative types often come up with some wild gift ideas!
We get to know one another better, and that is invaluable. When we have our monthly work meetings, there is so much to do, and little time for much more than catching up socially. And even our social lunches and other get-togethers are short on time or in a public place. Not conducive to getting down to the real stuff.
But in a relaxing, safe environment, loosened up by food and alcohol, we can dig deep into subjects we might not have approached at any other time. Though we do not expect all of us to agree on a particular subject, we usually come to an understanding by the end of the retreat. It is a blessing to be able to do this with your support group because miscommunications and misperceptions will happen from time to time. To be able to work together and really support each other means pressing through the difficult or uncomfortable stuff to get to what’s real.
By the time we leave our temporary cocoon, we are all exhausted but content. We hug goodbye and head back to our lives. And looking forward to doing it all again next year.
Do you ever get away with writer friends or associates for a retreat? What has been your experience?