The dictionary defines the word “retreat” as:
retreat |rəˈtrēt| verb [no object]
(of an army) withdraw from enemy forces as a result of their superior power or after a defeat: the French retreated in disarray.
• move back or withdraw: it becomes so hot that the lizards retreat into the shade | a series of trenches which filled with water when the ice retreated | (as adjective retreating) : the sound of retreating footsteps.
• withdraw to a quiet or secluded place: after the funeral he retreated to the shore.
• change one’s decisions, plans, or attitude, as a result of criticism from others: his proposals were clearly unreasonable and he was soon forced to retreat.
I returned home late last night–exhausted and exhilarated–from the LoonSong Writer’s Retreat.
I was in desperate need of a withdrawal from enemy forces (i.e. my WIP) into a quite and secured place, where I did change my decisions, plans, and attitudes, not due to criticism (other than my own), but from learning. There were formal craft talks on Voice and Narrators, Minor Characters, and Writing and Illustrating Picture Books. There were panel discussions on non-fiction and historical fiction and author/agent/editor relationships. There were informal craft talks that went on over meals, and cups of coffee, and glasses of wine–and one particularly helpful one for me–in Adirondack chairs on the banks of Elbow Lake.
There were boats, and kayaking, yoga, and walks in the wilderness, and nooks for solitary writing. There was whatever one wanted. And there was exactly what I needed.
I’m not going to lie– it was not easy to get to this lovey piece of the world. (And once you are there the internet is so spotty, to call it spotty is an insult to spotting internet everywhere). It took a day filled with angst of delayed flights, close connection, and meeting shuttles and having absolutely no idea of where I was going or whom I was meeting other than a name received in a late night email!
As far as I knew I was going to know one person–a daunting thought for a introverted (read: antisocial) person like myself. As it turned out, I knew a lot of people and meet even more — dedicated, talented, committed writers. And the fact that it took me forever to get there and back again and that there was zero cell coverage, actually added to the charm and magic.
Yes, that is a photo of a snake eating a frog. One of many wildlife sightings but the only one I was fast enough to capture.
I have returned home with a renewed focus. My plans have been adjusted and reevaluated and I am ready to charge forward into my WIP once more; after I do the laundry, go to the grocery, and answer all the emails that piled up while I was basking in quiet and solitude.