When I think of a writer’s retreat, I tend to think of the grand poobahs like the McDowell Colony or Yaddo — places with a pedigree. McDowell is especially appealing to me because Thornton Wilder spent lots of time there and he’s one of my all-time favorite writers. There’s something about The Bridge of San Luis Rey that is so mysterious and otherworldly: I’ve read it many times with awe and pleasure. So every now and then I fantasize about applying for a spot. A friend of mine actually peeked in at McDowell and saw some of its cottages — and the little picnic baskets that are delivered to their doorsteps. What’s not to love?
Then there’s another place I came across on my own also sounds so perfect!
It’s called La Muse Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat — love that name! — and offers year-round stays in a “twelfth century manor house in the mountains of Languedoc, in southern France.” For a relatively modest fee you can ensconce yourself in a room or cottage and write your heart out. Sounds divine, doesn’t it?
Well, right now, these entrancing possibilities are just that for me — entrancing possibilities. But that’s just fine, because almost by accident, I created a DIY writer’s retreat for myself — and it was quite enchanting in its own way. Here’s what happened: I went up to visit my son, Alex, in Middlebury, Vermont, for Parents’ Weekend last October. Now Middlebury’s a small place and there were tons of parents who had the same idea. Long-story-short: no room at the inns!
Instead, I ended up staying at a rustic cottage by Lake Dunmore. It was absolutely stunning — and still. I brought a portable typewriter, paper, and a project I was working on — and spent a blissful two fall mornings sitting at a narrow table overlooking the tree-touched lake as leaves and chipmunks skittered around and rowboats bobbed and swayed. I did some satisfying work, spent time with my son, basked in the beauty of Vermont — and drove back home renewed. Now that’s a retreat!
That sounds like bliss! I would love to have an away where I could write for a weekend or even just have some silence to think in.
Thanks so much for your note! I know exactly what you mean — finding those precious blocks of time for writing isn’t easy! In fact, my little writer’s retreat in Vermont was a real case of making lemonade out of lemons! After I missed all the inns when I was visiting my son Alex, I decided that as long as I was going to be roughing it in a no-frills cottage, I might as well make the most of it. So I brought up a project and organized a mini retreat for myself. It was great. When you’re dealing with family and busy schedules, finding time can be tough, but with a bit of planning you can make your own DIY retreat at a library or a local coffee or even a supportive friend’s house. The main thing I’ve found is to make your work important enough in your own mind to find time for it.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts — I hope you’ll keep checking in.
Write on! Karin