1 - Fall is my favorite season, and my writer's group has held its annual retreat in October for the past few years. An already beautiful spot unfurled into grandeur.
2 - My friend Kelly picked me up early Friday morning, as we'd both made sure to have that day free from work. Then we picked up our writing chapter president, Annette, and off we went, already enjoying our getaway with our trip out to White Point Beach. Only an hour and a half out of the city, and there we were. Long enough to be a journey, short enough to give us most of the day at our destination.
3 - We already encountered some exciting weather on the trip down - masterfully navigated by Kelly - but once the three of us settled in at the cottage and began working on our various writing projects, the wind and rain lashed the cottage with the full force of the Atlantic, a twenty-minute walk's distance from our doorstep.
It got a little unnerving at times. But it was also incredibly cozy to be inside and watching the storm from our front row seats.
4 - Once the other retreat-ers arrived, it was time to break out the bubbly. I brought a bottle of prosecco with me, which Jennie shared with me.
5 - We played Whose Muse is Whose? Each person brought pictures of two characters they're working on, and we then guessed which writer the character belonged to, and what sort of person we thought he or she was.
There wasn't a high success rate in matching the character to the writer.
But there was a very high success rate at guessing what sort of character the picture conveyed. And really specifically, too. For example, I said "Time traveller dude" for one picture, who turned out to have started life out as a time travelling character, but then became a straight historical one. And everyone keyed into my female character's attraction to the 'bad apple' sort.
A really fun game.
6 - The next afternoon we played two versions of the Add-a-Sentence game. Here we nab an opening sentence from a book, and then each person adds their own sentence to it, resulting in some outrageously funny stories. It's also eye-opening to see what sort of style emerges from someone we think of as writing in a particular genre. Sometimes a women's fiction writer can shock us with something twisted, or an historical writer can zing us with something edgey or macabre.
Guaranteed to result in howls of laughter.
7 - This is the first year where we didn't have craft-of-writing sessions. Instead we had multiple timed writing sessions so we could work on our own projects.
Every year by the time I get home from the retreat, my brain is on overload from all of those craft sessions. This year I didn't experience the same level of mental fatigue. Considering I'd happily subjected myself to all of that mind-numbing stimulation, you can rest assured it was all good.
But all of those writing sessions helped me to leave the retreat with my goal of completing eight missing scenes for my vampire manuscript accomplished.
8 - Last year we decided we needed more glamour at our retreat.
This year we carried on the tradition and worked it, baby.
9 - More traditions. A good retreat is a subtle blend of discovery and soothing predictabilty. Kelly and I always flourish when we partake in our pinot grigio toast at the Saturday evening dinner at White Point Beach lodge.
10 - Real quote from Nikki, the fetching brunette in charcoal gray beside me:
"Stop hitting on me!"
11 - Discovered our newest retreat-er, Shawna is a kindred spirit.
Shawna's sleepwear = Xena, Warrior Princess
My dog = Xena, Warrior Princess
12 - More traditions. A renewing walk beside the breakers, past the resort and along the road erupting in color.
13 - Ever thought about organizing a writer's retreat in your area?
All you need is an amazing location, a group of writers to share the space and the cost, some organized activity, some unscheduled time to do whatever takes your fancy, lots of delish dishes, a considerable supply of vino, several DVDs like Mamma Mia! and Julie & Julia, a willingness to stretch your creative muscles and a kick-ass brainstorming session to set you off and running for the year ahead.