It's quiet around our blog village, so I think I'll take the opportunity this week to get in a few plugs for good things, starting today with The Writers Retreat Workshop.
I've taught there twice, as has T.J. MacGregor who stopped by to say hi when I opened this blog. My co-writer on Seven Steps on the Writer's Path, psychologist and self-help writer Lynn Lott, taught there with me one year. I'll be teaching there again next spring. Our blog friends Conda, Beth, and Kimberly have all attended as students. My agent, Meredith Bernstein, has been there, as has Donald Maass whom I quote a lot. Jason Sitzes (jscs), who stops by here now and then, is the director of it. For the full story of its founding and programs, please go to this link.
That link can give you the facts, but I want to give you a picture of what it's like to get to leave your regular life and go do--finally, at last--what you've been longing to do, possibly for years, maybe for a lifetime. In this case, it's writing, but it could be anything you're longing to be able to do without interruption, if you could only find the place to do it. Maybe this will inspire somebody out there to do the same for himself or herself.
Here's what WRW was like the last time I was there. . .
They were doctors, physicists, teachers, computer technicians. They were two pilots, a clergyman, and at least one housewife. They worked in insurance and in law. Some could easily afford the considerable expense of the retreat; others had saved or worked harder, or gone into debt to pay for it. They were black and they were white. They were old enough to be retired and young enough to stay up all night. The important things they almost all had in common were that they had felt how unhappy it made them if they didn't write, and then they had let their desire grow until it gave them the courage they needed to make this grand commitment to their writing. They took the risk and gambled big on what they wanted. For ten glorious, hard, demanding days, they laid down their money and their time on the table where their wants were.
They had little rooms to themselves, they had their computers, they had classes to attend, agents to meet, editors to whom to show their work. The communal areas chattered with talk and bubbled with laughter, but the long corridors remained thoughtfully quiet as the writers tiptoed past one another's work. Books were born, or torn up, and begun again, or nearly finished. Careers started or were revived or rethought that week. They had POS buttons to wear anytime they fell into a funk and thought their writing was a piece of shit. The buttons signaled that they needed pats on the back, hugs, and encouraging words. They were served food, somebody else washed their sheets, but they did their own heavy lifting where the writing was concerned. They wrote. For those ten amazing days away from their "regular" lives, they became the full-time writers they longed to be.
For people who desperately wanted to write, it was heaven on earth.
Tomorrow: My little piece of heaven, Kansas, has its own mystery convention.
(Excerptrom Seven Steps on the Writer's Path by Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott, Ballantine Books, 2003.)