Going off on a solo writing retreat is one thing. Coming out of it is quite another. I arrived to my family's lake house last Saturday afternoon, unloaded my stuff, opened the shades and then just sat there in complete silence staring out at the lake.
It takes some time to decompress. It takes time to let go of all things that push and pull me in the city. So many things to do.
Sitting there in silence, I felt a bit uncomfortable at first. What had I committed myself to? Is this what I really wanted to do? The silence was deafening at times. My ears strained to hear anything.
I heard the hum of the refrigerator.
I stepped outside on the deck and heard the hoo hoo of an owl in the distance. I looked up and saw an eagle. Pine tree branches swayed in the light breeze.
I made myself a little dinner—stir fried kale and mushrooms with a fried egg on top and then went out on the deck to eat it. Out to the left, I spotted the neighbors paddle boat and took it out alone on the lake. I hummed to myself and sat there alone in the middle of the lake until the sun went down. Ducks flew disturbing the glass surface of the lake. I sat there all alone and quiet. I heard frogs.
The week went by much the same, but then I got absorbed in book writing. I would wake up, eat, take a walk and then write for 8-10 hours per day. I was completely absorbed in my next book. I sometimes became so absorbed that I forgot what day or time it was, forgot to eat lunch or dinner, forgot there was a world out there.
On about day 5, I started to get a bit of cabin fever. Too many long days of writing. Was I going mad? Was this what happened to the best of writers?
I was supposed to pick up my husband from the ferry dock. He was coming out for a night. He'd be coming in on the 11:30pm ferry and I left at 6:30pm—a bit too early. Obviously, I was ready to get out.
Grocery shopping was an adventure. I walked down every single aisle just staring at all the goods. But even after shopping and getting gas, I still had three hours to kill. I called my husband and he suggested I wait at Anthony's on the pier. So, I took myself out to dinner. It was really nice.
Near the end of the week, writerly friends came out to the lake, making my transition back to the civilization a bit smoother. I was so grateful to have time to really WRITE. I didn't check Facebook or waste time. I got right to writing. It felt good knowing that that was my only job out there for several days.
Now I'm back in the city and moving as slow as I did at the lake. I'm slow to clean, to shop, to get to this blog.
But here I am. It's good to be back, actually. It was good to pare things down to only the essentials. I think life can often get muddled with things that aren't important. I'm trying to keep those things that are important close to me and let go of the rest.
Have you ever been on a retreat. How did you feel coming out of it?