#AtoZChallenge: R is for Retreat



The idea of a writer’s retreat always fascinates me. It remains a dream impossible to achieve, yet the romantic feeling remains. Bali, Paris, London, Scotland, Canada, a treehouse in Oregon, a cabin in Boulder, an apartment in Italy or Greece, and even an ice station in Antarctica. If we cannot set our stories in those places, at least we can travel there.

A writer should be able to write anywhere. His and her inspiration should arise from their interactions with people, or at least their observation of such interaction. So the traditional idea of a retreat is intriguing — to withdraw into isolation, free from anything and everything that distracts and/or occupies us, and concentrate on writing, just writing. It is almost like gathering our memories and relocating them to somewhere else, only to pump them out again like water as we feel the thirst that is homesickness.

These days, to go to a writer’s retreat is to hang out in fanciful tourist sites with experts and colleagues in our field. Locations are carefully selected to offer the most comfortable and convenient environment in which workshops are held in the morning and sightseeing tours in the afternoon, with writing and contacting home left for the evening. Professional guides are on hand to schedule and facilitate what you see and learn — all that is left to do is to follow the leader, taking notes on other people’s words instead of creating your own.

Still, there is a desire among writers to go somewhere, anywhere, with a group of literary-minded people, to see the world and talk about writing. It is not about the actual act of writing — it is to prepare for coming back home and settling down to do it. How amazing it is, that we are the happiest when we are home. We can travel around the world to see everything there is to see, but to write at home, in front of our tiny, crowded desk, surrounded by such chaotic familiarity, is still life’s luxury.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susan Gourley
    Apr 22, 2015 @ 06:37:12

    My local writers’ group as a retreat each May at a bed and breakfast. I’ve never gone because it’s always the same weekend as the conference I attend every year. It sounds very productive to those who go.


  2. Christine Sun
    Apr 22, 2015 @ 10:44:22

    Aw, that sounds tough. I would want to go to both if I were you, but this conference must mean a lot to you if you faithfully attend it every year. Anything and everything to improve our writing! Good luck.


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