I have been looking forward to this week for months. I’m going to England, to spend a whole week immersed in the 20th anniversary Kindling Words retreat.
Note that a writing retreat* is very different from a writers’ conference. A conference provides lots of presentations and workshops. You take tons of notes and soak up as much information as you can. You also make connections with other writers and illustrators, and maybe even meet an editor or agent, and possibly even come away with permission to submit to a particular person with the “I met you at SCBWI-NE” as a ticket out of the slush pile.
At a writing retreat, you write. Depending on the format (and there are several quite different approaches) you may have some kind of instruction at some point in the day – maybe an inspiring talk, but just as possibly an unusual activity intended to open up your creativity: drumming, tai chi, dancing, drawing, role-playing, dream mapping – you get the idea. Retreats often also offer an opportunity to gather with other retreatants and share the day’s work. But for the most part, a retreat offers space and silence and solitude, a place and a time to just work.^ This is both exhilarating and intimidating.
|Lodore Falls Hotel webcam shot 11 March 2012|
I’m taking “the novel” – the historical fiction piece I began in 2003. It’s had one good rejection and a positive proposal critique. It was supposed to be last summer’s project, before my world fell apart. I’m hoping by the end of the week it will be ready to send out again. I have high hopes.