by Laura Romain
If I had to tell you what distracts me from writing, I’d say everything. And I mean everything: email, dishes, laundry, news sites, social media, snack time, whatever’s happening outside my window, my dog, not to mention my dog’s hair, which gets on every single item of clothing I own…
That’s why I was so excited to attend The Writers Circle’s spring retreat on Sunday, May 5th. And as soon as I arrived at Lord Stirling Park Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge, I knew I’d made the right choice. From the building’s large windows, I watched rain filter serenely through treetops and dapple the surface of ponds—arguably the perfect weather for writing.
The morning began with coffee (you know, the writer’s lifeblood) and breakfast: yogurt, granola, fruit, and the most scrumptious homemade scones. Then I got to meet my cohort for the day: a group of writers who craved their own escape from laundry, dishes, and social media so they could find space to express themselves and tell their stories.
After introducing ourselves and sharing our goals for the day, we each found a quiet spot in which to write. Some of us decamped to the cozy library, while a few braver souls chose a science room with glass cases of chirping crickets. I started out in the library, but eventually my curiosity brought me to the science room, where the cricket serenade proved oddly soothing.
There, I began work on a new story about an ardent feminist and her teenage daughter who develops a not-so-wholesome crush on the man next door. The sense of community and the serene environment helped me to make so much more progress than I would have at home, where I’d probably have ended up doing some online shopping and reading about Harry and Meghan.
Over the course of the morning, Michelle and Judy led optional sessions for anyone who was craving prompts and direction to help them make progress. In a nature writing session, Judy led participants to take inspiration from the natural scenery all around them.
Lunch was a feast of sandwiches, salads, baguettes, chips, and apples in an octagonal room called the tree house. Afterward, I led meditation and yoga sessions to help participants relax their minds and their bodies.
At the end of the afternoon, everyone came together to read from what we’d written and share our progress. Lillie’s story about a vicious gerbil had us falling over with laughter, while Kim’s historical drama had us on the edge of our seats, wishing we could hear more. Throughout it all, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was with my people—people who care about words and stories and books—and it felt so, so good.
Camaraderie, serenity, bottomless coffee, and those delicious scones—if I could attend a Writers Circle retreat every weekend, I would. And I’d be so much more productive as a result. As it is, I’m counting down the days until the weekend retreat at St. Marguerite’s in November.
Laura Romain is a writer, editor, yoga instructor and – as of June 2019 – will hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.