On Writing Retreats

Having been attached to academe for most of my professional life, and not just any academic institution but Catholic educational institutions in the Philippines, attending annual retreats was part and parcel of teaching. There was always a spiritual component to the retreat, as it would be a way of stepping back from everyday life and stresses to relax the professional brain and delve into the spiritual core our selves so that we could reflect on our personal and professional lives and return to the “normal” world recharged and rejuvenated, ready for another year of teaching.

A writing retreat is somewhat different in the sense that, while you leave the normalcies of everyday living, you nonetheless immerse yourself into a working environment, assuming that you call writing work. It gives you time to recharge your writing batteries and set everything aside except your writing, allowing you that luxury of not having to worry, for the time being, about housekeeping or bills or meetings or that dreaded four-letter word work.

On my second year of joining a group of like-minded women, I have found myself looking forward more and more to this annual writing retreat. Case in point, I accomplished a record amount of writing in a day than I had in a week. Possibly, considering the rest of year, than I would in an average month. But it’s not just the fact that I can set aside time for writing that I join. After all, being self-employed and living in solitude does give me multiple opportunities to sit at my computer or at a table with whatever writing implement I choose for the moment, to write. Writing, as well, comprises a considerable portion of my self-ordained work. What I look forward to is that shared sense of oneness of purpose, that sense of belonging, camaraderie, and friendship, that openness to hear each other out and share whatever comes to mind at the dining table– be it television shows that you would never catch me watching, or what we call our pets. It is as much a spiritual as it is an emotional experience, when you know you can read your work to others who will not judge you or what you have written, and who can only understand you a little more with each word that trips from your lips, be it like tinkling fairy bells or the resounding boom of a cruise ship– though truth be told, there was more tinkling and clinking than clanging and banging. It is a coming together of minds and spirits that will, eventually part ways; but at least for the rest of the year, hear in our collective heads the gentle echoes of chimed words and ringing laughter weaving delicate lanyards that will hold our sails up until the next writing retreat.

 

@ The Serendipity Inn, Central Bedeque, PEI

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