Over the years I’ve gone to a few writers’ retreats, from an adventure like a cruise with Cruising Writers to a few of us hanging out in someone’s living room and getting a chapter in on a Saturday. Some encourage attendees to Have a Plan (so many words per day, speaker in the evening, socializing a must) and some are so unstructured that people wander away and go home. Some mastermind groups meet every quarter in a vacation location like Las Vegas or Cabo San Lucas, spending a week brainstorming the upcoming year’s books in their hotel rooms, round-robin style.
This week, my writers’ retreat was nothing like any of those. This week, I was in the French countryside in a 200-year-old manor house called Chateau JAC, owned by an English couple and the ultimate in dream spaces. Seven days, seven bedrooms, six authors–Bella Andre, Nancy Warren, Jennifer Skully, Linda McGinnis, Jenny Andersen, and me.
My goal was to get at least halfway through Selwyn Place, the second of my little “manor house” stories in the Magnificent Devices world (how apropos!). The other authors came in with goals, too: brainstorming the next in a series, editing an upcoming release, making progress on a first draft.
Some of us are morning writers. Some prefer the afternoon. Some of us just write all day and look up in a daze when it’s time for dinner! It all works out because the only rules are: (1) give privacy when it’s requested, and (2) do what makes you happy. Those who like to cook, do. Those who don’t, do the dishes. Someone takes the trash to the end of the long drive. We do our own laundry. Some go for brisk walks for an ungodly number of miles (not me). Some are content to do laps in the pool or simply stroll around the estate with treats in our pockets for Henri the peacock (me).
Chateau JAC makes me happy. We all agreed that we could stay two weeks instead of just one. We’ve all made progress in our work and now, on the last day, there is more yet to be done (placemat plotting! yay!).
I’ll never forget our week here. Needless to say, we’re already planning the next one …