Nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont is a piece of paradise for writers called When Words Count Retreat. I was fortunate enough to win a 4-day, 3-night stay during their Christmas Sweepstakes. I spent the end of last week there, writing up a storm.
Their web site calls the retreat a Home Away From Home. It really is! Everything about the place was comfortable, cozy, warm.
One of my writing partners, Cindy Faughnan, also won the sweepstakes and we chose to go at the same time. The house stood on a dirt road, among barns and fences (a former working farm), facing a huge expanse of fields and mountains. As a city girl, I was worried I’d feel isolated but I immediately felt welcome. We were greeted warmly by the fabulous Diana Mellar, the general manager, and the amazing Chef Paul (more on him in an upcoming post dedicated to the food). I was thrilled to be assigned to the Emily Dickinson room!
Inviting and cozy, yes? There was a large dresser, a closet, and two nightstands with reading lamps. The walls were adorned with photos relating to Emily Dickinson. I do believe the photo above the desk was of her house. A book of her poetry was placed on the dresser.
On the first floor, past the kitchen is the Gertrude Stein Room where hash sessions were held in the evenings (more on that in a later post). And there was plenty of space to spread out to write during the day. The first day, I worked in my room, but after that Cindy and I worked in other parts of the house.
This was in the living room – adjoining the fabulous dining room (I can’t wait to talk about the food…!). This was truly a most amazing retreat – everything is taken care of for you so that you can devote all your time and energy and thought to writing. I arrived hoping to get a solid start on a brand new YA novel. I think I was shooting for a few thousand words during my 3-1/2 day stay. We arrived past 2 PM on our first day and I spent much of that afternoon getting situated and reading what I already had for my draft (not much). After that, I dove into writing. Day 1 word count: 3000+ words. Day 2 word count: 4000+ words! The morning of the day we left word count: 2000+. Seriously, it’s rare that I can write that many words in a day when starting a brand new draft. I completely lost myself in writing. I even forgot what day it was!
I woke up every morning around 5:30 (this is normal for me), and wrote (with breaks for breakfast, lunch, a walk, and dinner) from morning till 5:30 cocktail hour. That’s intense for me. The other writers seemed to feel the same – they were all productive and invigorated. There were five of us guests total and by some wonderful miracle, we were all children’s writers! Not only that, but we knew people in common.
I’ll be blogging about this retreat for the next few posts! There’s just too much to say about my wonderful experience there. Till then, check out their web site. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re looking to get away and write for a period of time. Next posts will include: The People, The Schedule, The Food, The Adventure!