Thursday, August 25, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Summer: Mini Writers' Retreat

I spent a lot of childhood summers having adventures on lakes--it's kind of a way of life in the Midwest. Summer camp and family vacations and trips with friends. So this past weekend I finally took my friend up on her offer to spend a few days with her at her lake house writing and talking and having adventures.

We spent at least three hours every day writing and revising. While we each had individual goals for the extended weekend (a goal that I changed the first day when I realized I had been way over ambitious), we'd decide what we wanted to accomplish by the end of each day and then get to work.

Taking breaks to walk the dog, we'd talk about problems we were having, make suggestions to each other on how to make our writing stronger, and discuss books that we hoped to emulate. It also helped to have such an inspiring view along the tree-lined streets and peaceful lake.

We spent time critiquing when we'd reach a milestone goal--like rewriting a chapter or getting an important scene nailed down or outlining a subplot. These sessions weren't as detailed as our usually writers' group critiques, but we'd talk about what worked well and what still needed work.

It wasn't all intense writing sessions. We spent the evenings watching movies and playing cards and talking. We did a lot of talking, and not just about writing. Julie's husband got in on the action and made us laugh and remember that life exists outside the page.

Most importantly, we rewarded ourselves on the last day by taking the kayaks out for a spin. It's been a long time since I've held a paddle, but I managed not to tip over.

It was just what I needed to re-energize and remind myself that I love what I do. Not a lot of people get to do what they love for a living, and quite a few people still haven't found out exactly what they love. But me? I'm one of the lucky few, but sometimes the stress of work and responsibilities and life in general makes me forget just how lucky I am.

So thanks, Jack and Julie, for welcoming me into your home and letting me write at your kitchen table for a few days. It's nice to know I have such good, supportive and loving friends.


  1. This looks awesome! What fun!

  2. It was so much fun! Such a great writing experience with an amazing writer.