I’m away on my “annual” one week writers’ retreat after missing it for the last three long CoVid years. We’ve been doing it for 15 years. There are nine of us, all romance writers of various sorts — I’m the only historical writer — and after the first few years where we moved around and held the retreat in different places and different states, we’ve settled in the last ten years at a place on the Gold Coast of Australia, in south-east Queensland.
We stay in an apartment hotel opposite the beach. I’m sitting in bed writing this, and looking out onto this morning view, with the waves swishing rhythmically and birds calling. They’re mostly rainbow lorikeets — gorgeously colorful, chittering and screeching as they flit between the trees. The sea and sky make for a constantly changing, endlessly fascinating vista.
We each have a separate apartment, except for two people who share a two bedroom suite, and that’s where we all gather to meet in the evenings. We each have our own rooms because it’s very much a working retreat — several are on deadline — so the mornings are quiet times for writing. (And an occasional quick swim before breakfast.)
We generally meet for lunch and dinner — home made or take-away — the hotel is close to all kinds of restaurants. Our rooms all have a kitchenette, so we can cook if we want. But the local restaurants are good and their food is tempting so at least one meal a day is bought. On the first night together we grab fish and chips and champagne — it’s now a tradition.
On the first night we have a “round robin” where we report on our year and what we’ve been doing — professional but also personal, where appropriate. We’re on email throughout the year but this in person talking is more personal and intimate. Talking to real people makes a huge difference, and since we’ve all been friends for such a long time, we share quite a lot. We also talk about our plans for the retreat. I’ll share mine in a day or two.