Create Your Own Writer's Retreat, Part I

There was iced tea in the lobby. I really, really liked the iced tea.

I’ve never been to a writer’s colony or retreat, for several reasons. First of all, most of them require you to apply, and that requires filling out things and asking for recommendations. I am quite lazy. Then there are the fancy retreats where you get Invited to Attend and you share cocktails with Jennifer Egan (probably) and throw Jonathan Ames out of your bed (I’m guessing). I’ve never been invited. (Sob.) The ones that don’t require invitations or applications are, I’m pretty sure, cults. You go there expecting to finish your big project and instead you end up weaving conjugation hammocks for Timothy of God and his wives. I can’t take that chance. My hands would never bear up under the strain.

Besides, I could never leave home for that long. Scott could make do without me, but Henry would languish. He requires careful watching and feeding and hugs. Or maybe he’d be perfectly fine. Either way, the self-induced mother-guilt would be too much.

I do, however, like the idea of escaping for the weekend to write. My writing schedule tends to fall apart on the weekends. I always think I can devote extra time to writing, and I never can. I can’t write when there’s family-togetherness quality time to be had. Or when our apartment needs cleaning before the vermin move in. When you’re home, there’s no end to what can get in the way of your writing.

So when Westin generously invited me and a fellow writer to spend three days in Montreal, I leapt at the chance. I dragged along my friend Mira, who is also working on a novel; we’ve been secretly meeting over the past few months to exchange chapters and plan our conquest of the literary world. (Shh, don’t tell Jennifer Egan. She’ll never know what hit her!)  We have also been meeting to share gossip and talk about ex-boyfriends. I couldn’t imagine a better traveling/writing companion.  We issued some hasty goodbyes to our families, and took off before they noticed we were gone.

And now, my friends, we’re back. I know you have questions. Did we get any work done? Or did we forego writing for Heavenly-Bed-inspired sleep and girly cocktails at the Gazette? Did Jonathan Ames show up unannounced? How much poutine did we consume? Will I have tips for you on how to organize your own writer’s retreat? Stay tuned for the answers.

Many thanks to Westin Hotels & Resorts for sponsoring this campaign.  Click here to see more of the discussion.

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