Wicked Wednesday–Retreat, and Not Just From the Heat

Jessie Crockett authorJessie Crockett was our wicked awesome hostess for the Old Orchard Beach Wicked Cozy Retreat.

Sherry: A weekend can’t get much better! Who wouldn’t want to stay here — in Jessie’s wicked cozy bunkhouse?! Julie graciously agreed to take the top bunk. The weekend was all about writing, working on our blog, a Twitter lesson for me, and catching up with the wonderful women of the Wicked Cozy Authors. And yes, I cried when I left.

beach house bunkhouseJulie: It was a great weekend, though getting down from the top bunk was a bit of a challenge! But conversations about writing, plotting, Scrivener, social media, life, love, mysteries, and reading combined with good food and a couple of naps? I couldn’t have asked for a better 48 hours.

Jessie Crockett, Sherry Harris, Barbara RossBarb: Sigh. What can I say? We wrote a lot, we laughed a lot, we ate a lot, we drank a lot of wine. But more than that, we supported each other on this journey. Writing and the business of writing are so complex and largely invisible to the individual author. In both activities I often feel like the blind man trying to figure out what the elephant looks like by touching one part of it. Support–whether it’s believing while writing a first draft that you will find your story, or putting yourself and your art out there to be judged, or figuring out the labyrinth that is publishing and promotion–is so essential.

One thing I do miss from my corporate life is being on a team. So I’ve taken on board Julie’s mantra that not every one of us has to be good at everything (except the writing of course, we all have to be good at that). It is such a relief.

Liz MugaveroLiz: These retreats are one of my favorite annual events. Being in the company of such amazing writers and friends does wonders for my soul, not to mention my writing. The camaraderie, the support, the ocean – and of course, the food – combined gives me the energy to keep going and to realize I’m not in this alone.

My favorite activity of the weekend was the one where we talked about strengths – our own and each other’s. I’m not always great at talking about myself. In fact, I managed to postpone the discussion for a couple of hours before Jessie caught on to me and steered us back on course. But it was a great exercise and really showcased our strengths and, as Barb said, our ability to be a great team. I’m so thrilled to be part of this group.

Edith: What a supportive group I have found my way into! As I described the retreat to my son, we spent time ignoring each other and working madly on our word counts, or, in my case, on polishing my completed manuscript. And then we joined up to talk about craft, promotion, how-to’s, why-to’s, where-to’s, who-to’s, and more! I sort of wished I was in the middle of a new project, because this kind of atmosphere fosters that kind of creativity, but my looming deadline drove me to do revisions, instead.

patio tableHaving the beach nearby for a mind-clearing brisk walk was wonderful, and I even took a plunge in the Atlantic, which was amazingly warm for Maine at any time, not to mention barely June. We ate well, too. Asian noodles with grilled shrimp and chicken and home-grown salad greens, plus Julie’s Asian cabbage slaw. Amazingly rich baked breakfasts. Lots of fruit, some tasty local pizza, and the now-traditional opening night cheese fondue ála Jessie. It’s hard to be back home, but this team and these friendships will endure for a long time to come.

Jessie:I’ve been looking forward to the retreat for months. We planned it back in the winter when it didn’t seem possible that anyone would ever want to swim again. But before I knew it, May had arrived, the other Wickeds were parking their cars at the beach house and unpacking laptops. And Edith and I both managed to enjoy a swim.

The energy of the group and the peer pressure of people you admire being productive is  extremely motivating. You don’t want to be the one leaving your desk to stare into the refrigerator, searching for your second plot point in the box of leftover cake!

I felt like everyone got what they needed from the time together, whether that was a high word count, carefully revising what was already written or deliberate thinking about goals and dreams.

I feel so grateful to be a part of this group and to spend time with other people who truly understand the joys and frustrations of writing. If you are a writer and are finding yourself in need of a jump start, a retreat of your own may be just what you need! But be sure to bring along some friends; it makes all the difference.


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