2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006: Named one
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Recently I answered the knock at the door to see my slightly disheveled girl friend, also a writer, standing on the stoop with two large coffees in her hands.
“I’m taking you up on your idea,” she said, and handed me a cup. Taking a sip, I frantically try to recall which hair-brained idea of mine I last left her with.
“I decided you’re right. In order for me to get my novel done, I have to get away from the phone, TV, kids, and house. So, I’ve booked a room for a few days at a resort up North. It has an indoor heated swimming pool, hot tubs, and an Aveda spa. AND, if you can be packed in 20 minutes, I’m inviting you to come too.”
I was ready in 15. My bag packed with all my essentials: laptop computer, printer, power cords, phone jacks, manuscripts, notes, paper, post-it pads, pens, swimsuit, toothbrush, a bottle of wine and a pair of jeans.
As a stay-at-home mother who writes for a living, my daily work (writing) schedule includes not just the odd interview, article, or edit, but also a few loads of laundry, meals, phone calls, sibling rivalry settlements and bill maintenance. Sound familiar? The chance to get away—for the sole purpose of writing was one I leaped on.
It took four hours for us to arrive at our destination, and though I gave some thought to the time I was losing from potential writing hours for driving, I decided not to sweat it. It was so exhilarating to be out of the house, on the way to someplace new; with nothing and no one to interrupt the creative process once I began.
We pulled into the lodge and set up “camp.” I drew on my feng shui knowledge to reorganize the furniture and lighting, and provide writing work areas that were enticingly centered around the fireplace or window that looked out into the woodland.
Each of us set up our laptops and went to work. We stopped for breaks, or to pitch an idea off each other occasionally…”What do you think of this?” or “How about the chef as the villain, does that work?"
The beauty of taking a couple of days like this with another writer is that writers understand each other. We can tell from the look on your face that you are deep into the plot, strategizing your next move, or that you are exhausted and in need of a temporary diversion. As writers, we were able to give each other the space and quiet time needed to write; yet the companionship and camaraderie that comes with working in the same field.
At the end of three days, both of us had met all of our self-appointed goals. Both quality and a quantity of time was spent on our respective manuscripts. Plus, we got to know each other better, enjoyed watching the antics of the wildlife in the woods outside our window, and to celebrate our wonderful and successful writer’s retreat, we headed to the spa before heading home.
Our one hour appointment for a rosemary-peppermint body wrap turned into a four hour fest as we luxuriated in the fabulous amenities, such as the sauna, steam room, and so on. We toasted each other with bottled water, packed up our manuscripts and drove home—refreshed, revived, rejuvenated, and in love with our profession once more.
What are you waiting for? Just a couple of days, no kids, no laundry, no phone calls, no kidding. You deserve a writer’s retreat. Find a writing buddy and make it happen. You’ll be glad you did. Write on!
Tama Westman writes the Off the Page column for Write From Home. As a correspondent and columnist, she publishes news articles, feature stories and her column, Cuppa Thoughts, regularly with her local paper, the Chaska Herald. She has served as the editor of the award-winning literary and arts magazine, Haute Dish. As a freelancer, her articles appear in several local newspapers and, nationally in The Gathering and Light & Life Magazine.
She teaches creative writing and poetry classes with the AHEAD program (Achieving Higher Education and Dreams) at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, mentors high school journalism students and helps to edit the column of her 18-year old, British-bred cat on coolpetsites.com, Purrfect Gypsy – The Cat’s Eye View. She is married with two college-enrolled children, and keeps her balance with a cup of tea taken in the afternoon in her English garden. Her published clips can be viewed via her Web site, http://www.tamawestman.com and she can be reached at email@example.com.