A Retreat Center Offers the Solitude a Writer Needs

My cat, Savannah, loves my manuscript. She loves to lie on it, bite the corners of the pages, claw the spiral binding. A few mornings ago, she backed up, sprang forward and pounced on it, ripping out a page. I’d had enough.

What Savannah doesn’t understand is that I love my manuscript too, possibly more than she does. I hope to one day see my manuscript published, taking its place on the shelf alongside other novels at your friendly neighborhood bookstore. In order to make that possibly happen, I need to have peace and quiet to work on revisions. So I ran away from home, but only for a weekend. I left Savannah with my husband. I blotted images from my mind of Savannah scaling the window screen like Spiderman as I backed the car out of the parking lot—a feeble attempt on her part to gain my sympathy and change my mind about leaving. I became gleeful as my home became tinier and tinier in my rearview mirror.

Retreat ManuscriptThe retreat center, where complete silence was required, was just what I needed to enter the world of my characters and stay there until I’d read through to the final page. That was one of the best ways to discover inconsistencies in the story, dialogue that didn’t seem to work, repeated phrases.

Retreat BedThe retreat center accommodations included a modest room with a twin bed, desk, and closet. Three hot meals were provided, lush grounds and walking trails for getting in touch with your thoughts. I got more done in two days than I would have in two weeks, going about my normal routine of work, the gym, household distractions, Savannah.

So writers, next time your birthday or a holiday rolls around you’ll know what to ask for, not one of those fancy metallic ball point pens you’ll end up losing in the couch cushion, not one of those blank books you’ll never get around to using, but a stay at a retreat center.

 

What I Learned from My First Book Signing

BWC KEEPER

I’ve been a member of Boston Women Communicators for several years. The organization supports women in communications and helps them advance in their careers. Jane Breschard Wilson, the founder, agreed to let me conduct a book signing at a recent monthly meeting held at the College Club of Boston. On the table set aside for me I arranged copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, in which I have an essay, a copy of an article about me that was published recently in the Weymouth News that I had laminated and mounted with a small easel at Fedex Office, pens that I pre-tested to make sure they worked properly and copies of my business card with my blog address. BWC3

I only sold two copies of the book but I had a delightful time chatting with the members and getting good practice for future events. I got a good sense of what people like to talk about when they come to an author book signing. A number of people took business cards which I know led to more traffic on my blog based on my stats in the days following the meeting. I came up with a stock phrase to use when I signed the books so I could write and chat at the same time. So while not getting my essay into the hands of many readers, it was worth the time and effort.