Saturday, September 11, 2010


By Susan

retreat: noun. Departure. A place one goes for peace. To pull back; go away.
and my favorite:
to treat again.

It's that time of year.

We at whatwomenwrite are planning our annual fall retreat for November, and like schoolgirls we are looking forward to it with gleeful anticipation. Three days at some secluded woodsy cabin. Three days without children and spouses pulling on our hems needing... well, needing everything. Three days, most importantly, to write.

Pamela got a lot of grief over wearing red.
Last year, on our inaugural retreat, we piled into cars and headed to Glen Rose, Texas. We brought books to swap, we put dibs on roommates, and we cooked. Some of us drank wine, some of us told stories. We spent one evening devoting ourselves to the photo op you see at the header of this blog page (which was way more complicated than it looks). We shared our lives, we shared our works-in-progress, and then, as quickly as we could come together, we split up to separate spaces on the porch and in the house to do what we went for: to write.
In the evenings, we came back together over food and low light to read to each other from our glowing screens. I wrote a scene about memory--and how we shape truth by creating our own pasts. Joan wrote about a road trip through New Mexico between a great-aunt and her niece, who bear the same name. Pamela wrote a painful scene about loss and uncertainty, and Elizabeth and Julie, both in the middle of NaNo-- National Novel Writing Month--won the prize for the most words in the weekend. Kim, even through suffering from incapacitating allergies to western cedar, wrote a great verbal fight scene between her protagonist and his naysayers.

Watch your toes. Cows crossing!
This year, we are planning for a western cedar-free location. Elizabeth found a place in Oklahoma ("Do you have western cedar there? Uh, Ok. Thank you, never mind.") Then perhaps a place in east Texas. I threw my own suggestion in, the Greek Isles and a full Mediterranean tour, and everyone shouted an enthusiastic "YES", yet somehow the full economic implications set in, leaving us despondent and not mentioning Greece again.
Julie hits the porch

The best thing about retreats, however, is not only the location, but the ability to change your setting to produce different results. The chance to pull back. To go away. A place to go for peace.
And of course, my favorite aspect of retreat: to treat again.
So here's to you, my girlfriends of whatwomenwrite--let's treat ourselves again! What about you? How do you retreat? Share with us!


  1. I so need this retreat, mountain cedar or no! Had I not just recovered from Swine Flu a few days before the retreat, I may not have been that bad. Can we ban fire ants, too? I recall being attacked by those as well...

    Despite all that I had fun, and it did break some writers' block, too!

  2. This sounds AMAZING! How fortunate you all are to have found each other.

    And there's lots of great places in the Hill Country if you ever want to head down San Antonio way!


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