Writing is essentially a solitary occupation. Possibly because of this writing retreats, where a group of writers, sometimes friends, sometimes strangers gathered together by particular tutors or venues, are popular - or at least they were before the pandemic. I'm sure they will bloom again when we achieve normality. The object of the exercise is to have a block of time away from routine to get work done, the support of other writers and often freedom from domestic chores. I've often thought I'd like to do a retreat - either on my own, which is also useful for getting work done, or in a group. I never got round to it pre-pandemic - blame the doctorate - but it is on my bucket list. Of course another constraint to doing a retreat is paying for it - getaways don't come cheap, especially the very enticing ones that take place abroad.
So can it be done without leaving home? The answer is - yes. The Cariad Chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association did a virtual retreat last week. Heroically organised by Jessie we assembled on Zoom at 9am, noon and 5pm to set goals and report progress. Admittedly some were still in their pyjamas for the first session - well, alright, I admit that was me. But they were a very posh holiday pair especially worn for the occasion. Some people were only able to come to part of the day due to other commitments and if you wanted feeding and watering it was down to you - I got myself a fancy ready meal so I didn't have to do too much.
The big thing was - it worked. It was lovely checking in with everyone to find out how they were doing. My morning was hijacked by some unavoidable admin stuff, but in the afternoon I got back into the WIP which had been languishing due to house repairs and other excitements and worked my way over a sticky bit that has opened up the way to the next section. I wasn't the only one - everyone seemed to get something out of it, even members of the chapter who were not able to be there have said since that they did something useful on the day. Quite a number who had been a bit stuck, or circling around a project found that the time and support helped them break through.
So - it was fun, it was a success - hopefully it will result in the appearance of a number of books in due course. And of course now we all want to do it again!
(And of course the picture isn't an ivory tower - it's Castell Coch.)