I’ve just returned from a Writers’ Retreat in the Shenandoah Mountains. While there, I shared a cabin with a former newspaper editor who needs to get back to her writing roots.
It was a six-hour drive to a place that looked — well, almost exactly like the place I left.
Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:
I live in the mountains of Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River. The cabin we stayed at is in the mountains and it is beside a mostly frozen lake that has the same noisy Canada Geese roosting and honking on the water. But other than the twitter-pated wildlife, it’s quiet and few people are crazy enough to want to sit in a log cabin in the middle of the woods in January.
There’s no boats, no fishing, no golf, probably no horse-back riding, but there was a ping pong tourney in the main lodge on Saturday night. Yeehaw!
Anyway, that’s not the point of the trip. I went to charge my creative battery and get some serious writing done. I’m happy to say I punched out the rest of a novel I’ve been avoiding for the past year.
Janice was planning on writing some grant applications, but I brought along “The Writer’s Retreat Kit” and interfered with her plans to work on work and instead convinced her to think about writing. She needs to rekindle that dream she had of writing mysteries for young adults. I know she has a couple of creepy stories to tell.
Anyway, the cabin was great. Two bedrooms, a fireplace, a whirlpool bathtub in a bathroom that I could spread my arms in and not touch the walls. There was a nice kitchen/dining area, living area and a front porch with a picnic table. It was rustic, yet still a bit luxurious.
Cozy, with a little wildness. Isolation, but not too far from the main drag. And an entire week to write, write, and write.
But a retreat isn’t only about hiding and writing, so we took a few trips. On Janice’s birthday, we drove to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Archives, a couple of museums and top it off with dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill where we were joined by her son, who works in town there.
Another day, we drove about the region and visited a winery. A lovely place, it featured a small pond with swans, both black and white. Dogs — mixed breeds — patrolled the vineyard to keep out the riff raff — deer and geese. Electric fences kept pairs of dogs separated and in their patrol area. The sommelier explained that singer Art Garfunkel once owned the “big house” and that author John Grisham lived close by and drove his Rolls Royce along the country roads. Actress Sissy Spacek lives behind the vineyard and when she’s having a party and in need of wine, she stops in, sometimes with mud on her boots from her estate.
At night, we kept a fire going in the fireplace and Janice took charge of the cooking. All I had to do was bundle up (cabins are cold!), type with blue fingers, wash dishes, and ride along on Janice’s adventures.
I admit that at first, I was reluctant to go on the Writer’s Retreat. I had just returned the week before from Ireland and I felt out of touch. I felt a bit guilty leaving tasks and pets behind as I gallivanted around, but it was a good idea. I’d do it again.