Monday, March 27, 2017

Retreats by Betsy Ashton

No, not retreating, but retreats, as in getaways to refresh, recharge, and commune with nature or with friends.

Have you ever noticed that men go off on outings that are generally sports-related. Golf. Fishing. Hunting. Professional sports. Men seem to be comfortable doing something together without talking. They like to be in each other's company doing something.

Women that I know are different. They love retreats with other women where something special happens. That "something" is generally bundled under "bonding."

For example, my daughter is going away for a weekend with her mother, a couple of cousins, and an aunt or two. They meet halfway between where they live and stay at a hotel. Not the Ritz, just a hotel with clean beds and maybe room service. Last year, they planned to strip an outlet mall of everything. And I mean everything. Instead, they ever left the hotel. They ended up having a pajama party and talking and talking. They shared wine and memories. They had so much fun that they're doing it again in a couple of weeks. Mind you, the older generation is approaching 70 and the younger generation have all passed 40. But, they have a great relationship and can't wait to see each other.

I love writers' retreats, kind of like a gigantic writing-nerd weekend. Several writers get together in a house at the beach or in the mountains for the soul purpose of  producing part of a book or a series of poems or a short story or a play. During the day, we write. Those of us who prefer writing in silence can take our laptops outdoors or stay inside. Those who need stimulation take their laptops out to a local coffee shop, a Starbucks, or a diner. We meet again late in the afternoon over cocktails or wine and share how our day went. Sometimes we read our drafts. Sometimes we savor the words in private, hoping they sustain frequent edits. At the end, we are closer as women, closer as writers, and closer as people. We leave refreshed and recharged.

My cousin prefers silent retreats, She's gone on several in various countries and states. She finds the lack of chatter, the quiet of her own thoughts, and disconnecting from all electronic media restorative. I want to go on a silent retreat. I know some of you spluttered coffee all over your desk. Betsy? Silent? No flippin' way. Yes, flippin' way. I spent some time in a Buddhist convent in my youth and cherish the silence of being in the moment. I may live life out loud, but I also live it inside my head, in the quiet of the night, in the moment.

What retreats turn you on? Care to share ideas?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery. She has a new short story, "Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape," in 50 Shades of Cabernet. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and on NPR.


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Personally, I'd prefer the silent retreat, but I could never leave Calvin alone. He fell again in the bathroom during the night, jarring me out of a deep sleep. I had to help him up. So, I don't see any type of retreat in my future unless he's able to travel along.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Vonnie and Calvin are both writers, so I think of those two on perpetual retreat :-) They are lucky, because, although my husband supports my writing, he's not involved except for some plotting ideas-when I want my characters to REALLY get into a pickle. Betsy, I've gone to conferences with women and bonded there, but never a writers' retreat. (You know that Alison, Jannine and I have tried to get one going two times now, so it's not for lack of interest) I'd enjoy a plotting party at a retreat...maybe getting help with 'stuck' places; I also might enjoy getting critique on something I'd polished. But I'm not so good with the' write something and share it at will,' because I revise heavily before I like to share. The bonding. Yup, a good thing!

Jannine Gallant said...

I'd love a writer's retreat just for the in-person bonding with other authors. As it is, when I'm stuck or need to bounce ideas around, I reach out online. I'd be okay with sharing because my first draft isn't a whole lot different from my last draft. I may only average 1000 words a day, but they're "clean" words. I'm still hoping one of these days we can put our ROP retreat together!

Diane Burton said...

My RWA chapter has an annual Retreat from Harsh Reality weekend. (If anyone is interested, it's happening in April.) We have one speaker who gives a couple of planned workshops. But there's time to kick back, chat, or write. I've only missed a couple since 1993. I'll miss this year's Retreat, miss meeting up with people I only see once a year. But g'daughter's 2nd birthday is more important to me. Last year, I shared a room with Margo and we had a great time bonding and talking books & promo.

Another thing members of our chapter plan is a Write-In weekend. It's a lot like what you described Betsey. Quiet time to write plus time to talk during meals. I've never gone to the Write-Ins. I have my own "write ins" at home. LOL

Andrea Downing said...

I have my own retreat really. I go to my rental property in Jackson WY when it's out of season and breathe the clean air, write and enjoy myself. Occasionally I have a friend to stay and I like the sharing of ideas, secrets and food and wine! I'm really sorry I'll be missing the CA retreat for the RoPs.

Leah St. James said...

Betsy, Your "bonding" retreat with family sounds wonderful! I probably wouldn't have wanted to leave the hotel either. I've been on a writing retreat to The Porches in western Virginia (around Charlottesville) that sounds much like yours. We each had our own room, and the rules are no talking during the day, but every evening everyone gets together to share. And then there's the "silent" retreat. Between my house (where hubby is now semi-retired and always home) and my job, I can't even remember what it's like to have silence all day!

Vonnie - I hope Calvin is okay!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Diane, literally, took the words out of my mouth. What a good time. We started that Retreat From Harsh Reality 30 some years ago when a writer friend and I needed time away from the hubbub of life. It's since grown and grown to 40 or more participants. Our first one took place in a college dorm in summer with no structure at all. I'm definitely in for a ROP Retreat. I have confidence we'll get there someday soon. Yes. Keep us posted on Calvin, Vonnie. Sending good thoughts!

Alicia Dean said...

I LOVE a nice, quiet writer's retreat. My Martini Club friends and I used to go on those. The best ones were the times we went to Eureka Springs and rented a little house. We had quiet writing times, laughs, food, wine, and going into town to shop and look around. It was a perfect balance. Now, two of our group has moved out of state. So sad!! I wish all of us roses were closer, geographically, and we could meet once a year somewhere. Wouldn't that be divine?

Brenda Whiteside said...

I love the idea of retreats. I haven't had the chance for many. I love your phrase, "silence of being in the moment."