I'm getting ready for a writers retreat on a nearby island. This is an annual event that has been going on since 1995. Lo, those many years ago, we found an old farmhouse to rent on Kelleys Island that had many bedrooms and beds. We wrote to our writing friends, and said what do you think? Should we start our own writing retreat--a come on Thursday, leave on Sunday kind of thing? They all said yes.
Now, every year we go in September or October when the weather is still good-ish (there was the year when the ferry scared me, the waves on the lake enormous and bleak) and the rental rate has come down. We all bring 2 gallons of drinking water and a roll of toilet paper and share the cooking at the dinner hour.
During the day we swim or walk or go into town to buy more coffee or find the hidden lakeshore path or visit the quarry. We sit in the kitchen and talk about what we're reading or what our students said or why we don't go to that yoga place anymore or how we have a new writing plan. Some of us use the time to finish projects or plan the coming writing months. Some of us sit in the sun until we're addled with happiness, frittering our time so that we return from the island restored.
In the evening, we read our work aloud. We have a schedule and a timetable that we stick to for discussion and an attentive audience that cares about language and movement and creative form. As with any writers group there's this interesting backlog attached to each work. I can remember S's train story or C's first chapter or T's piece about her mother. All of that rushes into the room behind the new work, demonstrating how far we have come.
This year we're celebrating someone's fabulous book deal (which has happened before). But we're also going to have a little memorial for one of our number who will not come again.