Friday, April 25, 2008

Retreat doesn't have to be a bad thing

First, a contest! Everything you wanted to know about Terri Thayer. I’ve been interviewed by my critique partner, Becky Levine, over on her blog, Scroll down, leave a comment and get a chance to win an autographed copy of Wild Goose Chase. Comments over here don’t count (that’s too easy). Besides, I’d like to her to meet some of my new MI friends. She said she learned stuff in my answers about me she didn’t know, and we’ve known each for seven years. Just think what you’ll find out me. TMI, perhaps.

I’m off to quilt retreat at South Lake Tahoe. When I mention to my non-quilting friends that I would be spending four days, sharing eight meals, working twelve hours a day in a hotel conference room with twenty other quilters, their reaction is inevitable: Huh?

Working with friends who share your interest leads to a lot of laughs, a lot of work done, and new techniques shared. Getting together is the same spirit that brought prairie women together, the idea of community, camaraderie and kinship in an increasingly isolated world. Only we do it in air-condiitoned rooms, with coffeepots and home made cookies. And the talk is a lot more bawdy. Maybe not, maybe those prairie women were a raunchy bunch.

When I first started writing, a friend (b.c., before children) would open her house to writing retreats. Writers of all stripes—sci-fi, nonfiction, mystery, kids—would spread out around her home, sprawled on couches, hunched over the kitchen table, outside under the just-planted cherry tree. They arrived by car, by train, on bike. We had only two things in common – Susan and the desire to write. We’d start early in the morning, write for several hours in silence, or in whispered conversations, then meet up for a pot luck lunch. The afternoon was more of the same. The synergy of other writers working in close proximity seemed to help attract the muse. If nothing else, it kept the butt n chair.

Voluntary confinement can be a wonderful thing. Away from home, from familiar surroundings, we can see things in a new light. With a little prodding from like-minded friends or strangers, we can open ourselves up to heretofore unnoticed possibilities.

So as I struggle to pack my car with sewing machine, ironing board, Ott light, power strip and what feels like half the contents of my sewing room, I know that the efforts are worth it. I’ll have a lot of laughs, get to know new friends, and learn my craft a little better. Because I’m on book deadline, I will be writing every day, too, but the camaraderie of the quilters will something I look forward to each day after I finish my pages.

Oh, did I mention they're fodder for the next book.

Don’t forget to comment at Becky’s blog. I’m counting on you to be your usual witty selves. Let it fly. She can take it.


Mark Combes said...


I've always marveled at folks that could write anywhere, anytime. I'm afraid I'm not built that way. I like my safe environs - my big black desk, mug of coffee and a keyboard that knows my fingers.

Keith Raffel said...

Terri, it must be working! Congrats on the second printing!

G.M. Malliet said...

I love the idea of writers getting together at someone's house. I tend to work more/harder when someone's watching me be industrious.

I think it was Louise Penny who said without her writing loft to go to, she'd spend all day eating gummy bears and watching Oprah. That about sums up my worst tendencies, too.

Terri Thayer said...

I didn't do as well writing at retreat as forecasted. I had a desk looking out at the lake, so I got a little distracted. And then there were all those quilts to be made.

Anyhow, I came back renewed. Thanks for the kudos, folks. You're the best.

Sophie said...

hey terri - hope you're having a great time at that quilt retreat....i once sewed for 16 straight hours at a retreat at sonoma state so I completely get it! you should post a picture of the quilt you're working on :)