A writers’ retreat


I’m going on a retreat in two weeks’ time. A writers’ retreat.

At least that’s what I’m calling it. I’m enrolled in a five-day creative writing course (titled “50 Ideas To Help You Write Your Novel”) at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ont., given by award-winning novelist Rosemary Aubert. Two writer friends of mine have taken her summer course several times, and returned with their creative juices flowing. From what I’ve gathered, she lectures to the group in the mornings and participants adjourn (to the college’s residence, for me) for afternoons to get down to the business of writing. No family commitments, no meals to prepare, no phone calls.

It’s just the thing I need. Like many fiction writers, I have a day job. I’m a freelance journalist, and there always seems to be something that comes up to keep me from writing fiction: telephone and in-person interviews, research and deadlines to work towards.  From September through May and well into June, I’m hard at work earning a living. It’s also work I’m good at and enjoy. It’s work on the left side of the brain, the logical, sequential side, but I’m convinced that activity actually nurtures the brain’s right side, seat of intuition and creativity.

I keep up my fiction writing during these months, but it can be difficult to find the time and the energy. My writers’ group helps with this; we meet once a month, so every month I have to produce copy for them to critique. But that’s a stinted output compared with the summer months that I reserve for writing fiction.

In previous summers, I’ve found the transition from one writing life to the other, bumpy at best and sometimes quite difficult. One day my email basket was full of queries from editors and I was hunkering over the keyboard with an eye on the clock. The following day I was free to pick up my novel, but I needed some downtime. Or a change of scene.

And that’s just what I’m hoping my sojourn at Loyalist College will be. I’ll be away from my home office and away from home commitments. Mornings will be my downtime; Aubert is a terrific speaker, I’ve discovered, and listening to her will be enjoyable and informative. And after lunch, I’ll get down to right-brain writing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to carry this routine through the rest of the summer, and have a sizeable body of work to show for it in September.

When I return from Belleville in mid-July, I’ll post a review of my week in this space. Hopefully, it won’t be too glowing or I may not be able to return to Loyalist College next year. Attendance is limited to 12.

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About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based journalist and fiction writer.
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