A Time Away

Last weekend I combined a church women’s retreat with a writing retreat.Sometimes it’s important to get away for contemplation, renewal, and refreshment. Fifteen women from Ridglea Presbyterian gathered at Still Water Lodge and Conference Center in the small town of Glen Rose, Texas about an hour from Fort Worth. A big thanks to Nicci Kennedy for great planning and organizing and to the women who came an participated. I learned from each of you.

I went down Friday evening to get a jump-start on writing. Well, I got away later than anticipated so I went to supper with four other women who’d also gone down early. We drove out of town to Loco Cayote for supper. img_5052 A cool place down an old road, a shining beacon in the middle of a pitch-dark night. The restaurant looked like it should’ve been down on Galveston Island, very rustic with outdoor volleyball area and sawdust on the floors with picnic tables. We thought it would be Mexican food. Doesn’t it sound like that to you? Nope. Though they had awesome chips and salsa, it was BBQ, enormous sandwiches, and the best fried shrimp I’ve ever tasted.

Getting back to town was so much faster than going when it felt like we’d been driving for hours. (isn’t it always that way?) LOL I got back and poured myself a glass of wine and got to writing about 1500 words before I packed it in for the night.

On a wall at the entrance to the Retreat is this picture. Perfect.img_5053

My suite had a kitchen, living room area (with two twin beds) and a large bedroom with two closets, and awesome bathroom. Remember I said the facility had been a retirement center. My suite would’ve been plenty big for one of two people to live in comfortably. I even had a balcony. There was no radio or TV which made for a lot of silence.

img_5047 img_5049

The next morning, I got up, dressed, went downstairs for coffee and came back up to write more. Met those early arrivals from last night and we walked into Glen Rose for a yummy breakfast and then returned to the retreat center to write more.

The larger group of women arrived and the retreat got started at 11 with a break at noon for lunch which the center provided. Lasagna, salad, veggies and French bread. I took only a small portion of the lasagna, eating mostly veggies and salad. I skipped the desert.

Our theme was “Joy” and the leader did (with the assistance of all those gathered) a super job helping us find joy in all sorts of things, people, and events. Joy can be expressed in those “Oh, Wow!” experiences coming in lower case letter and also all caps. Of course I shared about our lakehouse and the pelicans which are a special gift of God.

One thing we did is something I need to do more of. Play. I’m all about getting the next task accomplished, and I too often forget the joy in play. We did Zintangles. Mine is the on bottom line center. Each one beautiful and unique like each of us, img_5060 and coloring which I found enjoyable after I got over needing it to be perfect. LOL (I’ve now purchased my own coloring book and pencils at Walmart and spent about 15 minutes outside Tuesday afternoon.)

Late in the afternoon we had free time. I wandered down to the river finding animal tracks and listening to the gurgling sound of the river running over rocks.

 img_5050 img_5055

Then back upstairs to write more. Of course, there were technology issues. I had been getting messages saying malware had infected my laptop. I hadn’t gone on line and the laptop had been sitting in a closet since the last time I’d used it. Can’t imagine how it would’ve happened. I kept ignoring the signs until my cursor seemed to get a life of it’s on, highlighting sections of text, moving, or deleting some. Not something you want to have happening to your manuscript. I replaced paragraphs, saved my work, exited, and pursued getting the security program to do all its updates.

That took forever. Just when I thought it was complete, another something demanded to be updated.

img_5059 May have to get a swing for the lakehouse.

Before supper to help get in my steps, I walked downtown and made the square stopping in quaint stores. I returned just in time for supper. We had the most tender roast been I’ve ever tasted, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and a desert which I again skipped. (I’d eaten two large chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon!)

Then we had the evening session. When that was over, folks went outside for a camp fire, but I went back upstairs to a fixed computer and whipped out more words. All in all, I produced 5000 words. Not as many as if I’d just been there writing the whole time, but the virus/malware thing cut into a lot of writing time.

I did get an idea for another book while I was there, assisted by Katrina Little one of the RPC women. You know how I begin with settings, well, Still Water Retreat is perfect. I went with the fact that it was originally built as a retirement center. A developer wants to buy the property to turn it in to a high-end conference center, which would bring in more tax money for the town. The heroine is a lawyer from somewhere who grew up in the town and has come to visit her grandmother who lives in the center. The hero is the mayor of the town who’d like to have a larger tax base, but he’s had family live there, too. So he’s torn. The developer is the bad guy. I”m sure there will be a murder or abduction. There always is in my books.

Writing is so fun.

Sunday morning ended with a moving service and then it was pack up time and heading back to the real world after a restful and challenging time away.

Do you go on retreats? What kind? Where? What do you like about them?

Love to hear from you.

Please contact me at marsha@marsharwest.com

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16 responses to “A Time Away

  1. Wonderful post, Marsha. Great about combining retreats.

    I’ve been on one religious retreat in my lifetime and that was for getting married. I’m not big into those, but would be for a writing retreat. I just mentioned to Bill that I need a writing retreat (going to a cabin we go to each fall with our family) where we don’t have internet, so there wouldn’t be any temptation at all to go online. I have done that before and have gotten so much writing in.

    I enjoyed hearing about your adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Susan. I can see how the before wedding retreat might be stressful. The women’s retreat was planned with lots of down time, which was good for processing. Are you going to take your family on the writing retreat to the cabin. The cabin with no internet sounds wonderful. I just find when there’s our dog, the wash, the store, all sorts of errands when I’m home can cut in to writing time. Whereas when I’ve really gone away, I don’t have those distractions. Obviously, I have a wonderful place to write right here on the lake. I’m doing better with leaving off the TV, which I’ve always used as a time gauge. I was surprised how well I managed the silence on this trip when normally, I always have white noise. Let me know if you get to do the writing retreat. Thanks for stopping by.


      • We would never take our family to the cabin if I was having a writing retreat. We would go another time for the writing retreat.

        Bill came up with an idea this a.m. for a place we went to last summer on Lake Superior. Our room was facing the lake and it was gorgeous. I want to go somewhere beautiful like that. You’re right, you already have a beautiful place to write.

        We are going on a trip this March on the exact days that my fourth Kay Driscoll takes place, in part of the setting of my book. That trip will be great for writing descriptions of where we are.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see you had such a successful retreat. I’ve never gone on one. I think the pressure of having to write something would take away from the trip for me. That said, Anne and I have often brought work to do on vacation. Sometimes, it actually gets done. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Ken. Maybe because you write with Ann, a writing retreat works differently. I’ve gotten as many as 17,000 words on one retreat over a Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday morning. Boy did my shoulders ache. I wish I could’ve pulled that this time, but it was a combined retreat, so I’m pleased with the 5000 word count. I don’t set word goals daily like some folks do, because I don’t write daily. I tend to write in big chunks. I don’t write on vacatioin, though I’ll take my laptop to check emails so I’m not overwhelmed when I return. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That sounds like a wonderful place for a retreat, Marsha. I’ve never done a retreat before, but I’d like to. I get easily distracted at home by the internet and jobs round the house. I’d love to get away somewhere and just sit and write. Congratulations on getting so much done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Helena. I know you live in a beautiful place like I do, but all the day to day stuff–even our pups get in the way when you’re really digging in for a bunch of words. I hope you get to go some place. Keep me posted. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. I make a retreat out of those times when my husband is away at a conference or on a business trip. I prepare as if I’m going away as well–no appointments, no real cooking, no household tasks apart from feeding the pets. It’s great for focused time on a project or re-creation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Renee. That’s a great idea. The last time Bob went away was this past summer. Not much work done since I was still dealing with the broken ankle. But he’s got another coming up in late April, I must remember to stay home and not do anything but feed and walk Charley and work on this upcoming book. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂


  5. No, I have never attended a writing retreat. I commend you for actually writing instead of going to the campfire and writing after dinner. I’d weaken my resolve to write and go to the get-togethers!! I’m not a night writer. After 4 pm, I just write gibberish suitable for Facebook posts!! My daughter Sara loves Zintangles too. When she was a kid, she always loved to color and so she’s into coloring too! I guess it is a good stress reliever. I planned to get a lot of writing done while Gardener Ted was in the hospital for his hip replacement. Well, that didn’t work. I was too anxious about him to even attempt it. He’s doing okay, but pain is really setting in now 3 days after surgery. He’s home and pretty helpless at the moment. I know he’ll get better eventually. He’s an impatient patient. So not much writing fiction in my near future for a bit. Thanks for sharing those beautiful pics from your trip too. Great places to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, JQ. I sympathize with your situation with Gardner Ted. I see it from his side. It’s just terrible to be helpless and dependent. I wasn’t a very pleasant person to be around. I think I shared how one of my daughters told me to stop shouting orders and just ask politely. LOL I’m sure right now the time is dragging, but it will pass. He’ll get better and you’ll be able to go back to writing. I’m constantly amazed when I look back to early fall and my first trip to the grocery store. I so overdid and wasn’t sure I’d get back tot he car. Tell, Ted not to make my mistake. 🙂 Also to keep the meds inside and not to let the pain catch up on him. Hard to get control back when that happens. I don’t color for a long period of time at a sitting, just a bit and then get back to work. After he’s well, think about a writing retreat. Even an all day Saturday when you don’t do anything else. But going away is lots more fun. Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ve got Ted in my prayers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like a lovely and productive retreat. 🙂 I just did the taxes and I owe, I owe, so to no retreat I’ll go. At least not before summer. I’ve got to give my $ to Uncle Sam instead. But Lent starts 3-1 and I’ve been thinking of doing an internet fast for Lent. Maybe I could combine an in-home writing retreat of sorts with that…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Regina. Sorry you owe taxes. I used to hate when that happened. We’d adjust so more would be taken out over the next year. So much nicer to break even or get a bit back. 🙂 I like your idea of an internet fast. As my friend Renee suggested above, even staying home and not doing any of the regular things and just writing can work for day to knock out a bunch of words. Hope you find a way to do that. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  7. Pingback: Writing Retreats! – sisterhood of suspense·

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