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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Writer's Retreats

Photo by Laura Bear
On the subject of writer's retreats: definitely! My writing was reignited at When Words Count Writer's Retreat in the Green Mountains of Vermont. I was one of the first writers to stay there when it opened in October of 2012. The people who own it had a vision and created a spectacular place of peace and inspiration. Steve Eisner sat me down the first evening in the front parlor to find out what I was writing. He asked me questions about myself and my life and where I thought my story was going. If this was writing therapy, I was a willing patient! Jon Reisfeld was my first contact via email, encouraging me that yes, indeed I was qualified to come stay at the retreat. I had never been to one before and I hadn't written anything in many years (except reports and the occasional poem). They were so welcoming and excited about my writing that it was contagious.

Not only were the rooms beautifully appointed and comfortable, the food was amazing. Chef Paul whipped up masterful dinners, snacks, lunch, and breakfast every day. No cooking, no cleaning: nothing but writing, writing, writing. Before dinner each night, the writers (only me and this other fellow on that first stay), Steve and his wife Neale, and Jon met in the Gertrude Stein lounge for libations and discussion. Paul kindly stoked the fire and offered hors d'oeuvres as we talked about our writing. It was truly life-changing and just the kickstart I needed to get my writing wings back after a very long hiatus. A writer's Heaven, for sure and a lovely beginning to my first novel. Now, this can become quite expensive if you wish to pay for coaching sessions and manuscript evaluations, etc. and I did feel pressured to partake in these things at first, but later decided that the writing had to happen first, before I spent any more money on figuring out what to write.

I did return to When Words Count Retreat a few months later, for more time to spend just writing and to meet more writers. This time, there was a special deal for those of us who had been there before, and I was able to stay in the Mark Twain room with its own bathroom and large bed. I had many inspiring dreams in that room. Happily, I met several wonderful writer people who have been encouraging, inspiring, and have generously offered advice on editing and the business side of writing. I am so fortunate to have found a community of writers and creative people who are so giving and talented. I intend to return to Vermont again, but I am content to write in my own home at the moment. After reaching out to a local writer friend, I was invited to go to another writing retreat in the Finger Lakes. Much closer to home and much less expensive because we all share in the lodging costs and take turns cooking meals for the group. I can't wait to spend several days and nights just focused on writing and communing with other writers in a lovely setting.

By all means, if you have been hesitating on going on retreat to focus on your creativity, recharge your creative self and DO IT! Isn't your dream worth it?