I am just back from a writing retreat up in Door County, a scenic peninsula in northeastern Wisconsin that juts into Lake Michigan. The retreat was held on the grounds of Write-On Door County, and it was pure bliss.
For three days, eleven of us plus an instructor had the run of Write On's beautiful property. And that included the famed chicken coop (pictured above), which was once the writing space of Door County author Norb Blei. We wandered the fields, stretched out in the grass, and turned our attention to important thoughts. Like how the flight pattern of a butterfly resembles an EKG test.
I wrote in my good luck notebook -- the one I bought from Parnassus Books, Ann Patchett's shop in Nashville. The words came so fast! I ran out of ink on the third day.
The experience felt vaguely academic, an impression that intensified on the second day when one of my fellow writers informed me that we had been in the same gym class in 1980. Which surprised me because I had hugged her on the first day, and there is no way that her hair is that old. I mean I couldn't really get too close because her thick locks formed like a super pretty, nicely highlighted kind of barrier. She's got really great hair.
Anyway, we all became friends, encouraging each other through emotional readings, pointing out patterns in each other's writings, something that showed the development of voice or hinted at a specific genre. We cracked inside jokes.
One writer had to leave early because her son was having a baby. Another writer, whose genre is murder mysteries, and who killed off characters with very little provocation, left a day early for some reason or another. As she walked out the door, I whispered, "And then there were ten."
But I stayed till the end. Hated to leave. Want to go back.
Write On Door County offers residencies too, for emerging or established writers. Can you imagine spending a week here? Looking behind clouds for inspiration? Making up names for the chickens who once lived in Norb's coop? Apply here.