Some of the people who commented on my Sunday Scribbling post expressed a wish that they, too, could experience something like the Writers' Retreat I mentioned. This has been an annual event of my writers' group for the past 6 years (this was our 7th retreat). We don't call it a retreat among ourselves. We just call it by the name of the place we go to. (Top Secret!)The first weekend was so wonderful, we've never thought of going anywhere else. We stay in a residential space where there are no other groups, just a few staff discreetly and kindly looking after the huge appetites for food that we manage to acquire by sitting around writing. Because we go to the same place, we ring the changes by having a different poet to facilitate workshops with us each year. For the first few years, we asked for critique, but the past two years have been times of generating new work, asking for stimulus and prompts to get us doing something new and different, and this lifts the energy much more than picking over poems already produced. We've also incorporated other creativity-stimulating activities, by inviting someone to do drama exercises, collage, artwork, relaxation techniques or group-building exercises as a lead-in or wind-up to the weekend. Our Saturday evening is spent in the large, comfortable living-room celebrating poetry and song, by choosing a favourite poem to share, and some of our own work also.
I feel immensely fortunate to be part of a group that has developed a culture of acceptance, support and celebration of the work we all do, and in which differences are really encouraged and valued. Each member has their own style and voice, and this is respected. Oddly, though, I've never told them about my blog. Well... I haven't really told many people at all. So, I won't be posting a picture of the group. Rest assured that in the group photo, there are happy women, pleased to be going home having consolidated the group further, and each filled a few pages of a notebook with material for future poems.
If you have a writing tribe, group or buddy, why not arrange a mini-retreat? A day, or even a half-day devoted to comfort and space and writing? Book a small conference-room at a quiet hotel, ask a couple of members to suggest writing exercises, and come together to write. Let me know if you're planning to do it, and I'll cheer you on from afar!
I tried to add some more pictures here, succeeded, only to lose my sidebar, and the only way to restore it was to delete the pictures. When I tried to replace them with smaller versions, Blogger wouldn't let them in. Sorry. No more pictures from the "Secret" location!