Posted by: jeannineatkins | October 28, 2010

Writing Retreat

Today has twenty-four hours in it. Yes, clocks and calendars have told me this before, but I get to spend two days in Vermont with friends where we’re writing in mostly silence until supper. I look up from my manuscript and out the window and watch yellow leaves fall. I work on one poem, then shift to another, then look at everything backwards. Or at least move things around in the big space of a day. My characters relax and tell the kind of tales you get when there’s no buses to catch, no bells that might ring, when they know they’ve got my attention. They stutter less and speak whole sentences at a time.

When the day is devoted to writing, time moves as slowly as the sun. One does run low on energy, which is why it’s nice that one friend left out banana cake and another promises to run us through some yoga tonight. I miss my husband, miss my dogs, miss choosing between twelve kinds of tea: I packed just black for the morning and peppermint for after noon. But I’m surviving and writing and everything will be mine again tomorrow, when I return having carved a bigger space into my paper landscape.



  1. “They stutter less and speak whole sentences at a time.”
    I am tucking that sentence into my heart, as inspiration and encouragement to stay in the room with my own story.
    Wishing you many beautiful words on your retreat, and sending you a variety pack of cyber teas. xo

  2. Sounds lovely, even without enough tea. 🙂

  3. I wish you many more moments of such carving on your return. Sounds like all is going well with this project. And Jeannine, have you thought of gathering your beautiful blog posts into a book of essays on writing?

  4. I’ve never been on that kind of retreat, but I imagine you get lots done

  5. It’s not always easy to stay in those rooms, but almost always worth it. Thank you for the cyber teas. I want to get some of that Paris tea you cyber-serve, for real soon.

  6. Thanks, Becky. I guess two types of tea isn’t exactly roughing it!

  7. Toby, thank you for your kind words. Actually, Peter and I have talked about at some point maybe doing a small self-published collection of some writing thoughts.

  8. This is my first time doing something like this, too, and I really encourage you to try.

  9. Oh, that sounds good, Jeannine. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a full day to write, but I remember how luxurious that feels. And even a 2-3 hour stint lets me see and do so much more than a hour does.
    Happy stretching and carving! I wish I could send you some tea.

  10. I’m looking forward to reading what is speaking to you at your retreat. Have a lovely time. 🙂

  11. A two to three hour stint sounds excellent. I hope you are finding those to bring more words to light.
    Back to more tea and blue teapot this afternoon! And hoping for words to flitter through on the drive home. If so, may have to make a roadside stop to engage with my pen and yellow pad.

  12. Thanks, Jenny. Love your new icon! January is getting closer… !

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