Preparing For Retreat

Ferret writing retreat, that is. Not actual retreat from the battlefield of life and writing. Well, maybe kind of, now that I think about it? 

Ferret Vacation

The first Ferret Retreat of 2013.

It’s been two years since our last Ferret Retreat. In 2013, we were able to take two retreats (one in the spring, and one in the fall), but when we planned the second retreat, we knew it was going to be a couple of years before we could do another one. Partly because of some health issues that were coming to the forefront for at least a couple of us, and partly because of finances.

We enjoy beautiful scenery. (Mena, Arkansas, on the 2nd Ferret Retreat of 2013.)

We definitely enjoy beautiful scenery. (Mena, Arkansas, on the 2nd Ferret Retreat of 2013.)

But the time has come again!

Ferret Writing Retreats are very laid-back. We split up meal duties, help out with the dishes, and drink tea. A lot of tea.

In theory, it’s like a really long NaNoWriMo write-in.

Which, a tradition that will be continuing, most likely, is Ferret Plotting Night. Since we tend to go on these retreats a couple of months before NaNo starts, we always sit down and talk about ideas we have, what we think we might like to write for NaNo, and then writing in general. Things we’re loving that we’re working on, things we’re stuck on, and even ideas we have that we don’t feel are meant for us, but might be just what another Ferret needs to get their Muse kicking.

Just thinking about it is almost enough to get my creative juices flowing!

This time, we get to retreat for five whole days.

It’s not without apprehension, at least on my part.

You see, the last Ferret Retreat we had… well, things were not going well for me. There were family health issues going on, I had just been diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure (so high that the doctor didn’t want me to leave the office without a prescription, but I’m leery of a lot of medications because I’ve had adverse reactions to medicine frequently), and… my cat, Tabby, had just been diagnosed with the kidney failure that would kill him three months later.

While I had been so excited when we were planning that retreat, by the time it rolled around, I really just wanted to stay home. I wanted to spend time with my cat, and stay holed up in my bedroom, and just… vegetate. I had no creativity left, and I feel like I’m only just now starting to see the light again, especially for my writing life. Also, there was going to be no wifi.

And that’s not even touching on all the bizarre things that happened ON retreat.

See, we knew we were going to be in a cabin at the top of a mountain. But the majority of us have only ever lived in Oklahoma, and so we didn’t realize that meant altitude change.

I think it was the end of day two before we realized the altitude just might have something to do with the cooking mishaps we were having. Like a teapot taking forty minutes to boil.

And things taking longer to rise. And bake.

The ‘fully stocked kitchen’ advertised with the cabin also turned out to be… not fully stocked. And had the weirdest set of measuring spoons ever. I kid you not, there was a 3/4 teaspoon measure. Talk about practice with fractions. And we’re all writers. It was like being in math class again.

My real nightmare, though, was the night I went to sleep (early, I was exhausted), and dreamed that I was being bitten all night long. Only to wake up in the morning and find that ants had invaded my bed and my luggage, and I really was being bitten all night long.

I was so ready to go home at that point.

We also had wasp adventures. Two Ferrets are allergic to wasp bites, so that was a situation that needed to be dealt with… but we had no wasp spray. And the closest Wal-Mart was a 20 minute drive down the mountain. So while some people toddled back down the mountain to retrieve poison and Benadryl cream (for my ant bites), there was an adventurous afternoon spent flinging flip-flops at the wasp because the ceiling in the cabin was probably 20 ft tall.

So while we made some progress on writing related things, some of us did not go home emotionally and creatively refilled in the slightest.

So what are we doing different this time around?

First off, we are not staying on top of a mountain. Tea that doesn’t take nearly an hour will help keep spirits infinitely higher!

Second, we are not staying 20 minutes away from Wal-Mart. Especially 20 minutes down a winding, dimly lit, mountain road.

Third – WIFI!

Fourth, we are cooking simpler meals.

Fifth, we are doing everything we can to avert family, health, and financial disasters before the trip. Though this should really go without saying.

Sixth, we are bringing wasp spray.

We’re all ready for a little time away to find our creative selves again. But we also need to find the balance in our day-to-day lives, and sometimes that means doing something as simple as unplugging the computer, and taking a notebook outside.

Retreat can be found even at home, but a trip is nice too from time to time.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? How do you kick-start your muse when it’s been off for a while?

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5 thoughts on “Preparing For Retreat

  1. Alex Hurst says:

    I really want to go on a retreat, but I think a retreat with WIFI is bad news; too easy for me to get distracted, haha! Also, the place I go has to be in the middle of nowhere, or my shutterbug will get busy. 😉

    • I like being out in the middle of nowhere, but not everyone in the group functions well like that, haha.

      And well, for me, half of my stuff (inspiration, notes, documents, etc) are stored on the cloud, so without wifi, I usually end up groaning in frustration and resisting the urge to smash my laptop because things I could have sworn were on it were actually… not.

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