Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When you retreat

A few weeks ago I attended a retreat that met all my expectations--the Weekend on the Water  held by the SCBWI-WWA at the incredible IslandWood on Bainbridge Island.

One thing I really appreciated about this retreat was that organizers made the extra effort to reach out to participants, coming up to talk or sit at their table, rather than keeping to themselves. I know it made me feel welcome and comfortable. I imagine the dozens of people in attendance felt the same.

Weekend on the Water originally was held at a different place along Puget Sound.

IslandWood, which was developed to teach environmental awareness and sustainability, is deep in lovely forest, but there is water: The Pond.

A docent led those of us who were interested on a walk that included these marvels:

Tree House #1 is built so the central tree can move within a ring, swaying without disturbing the structure.
Tree House #2 where you can write in the woods or study the forest canopy

Suspension Bridge

Bird blind located at a bog, which is about 10,000 years old. A bog is an enclosed basin, whereas a marsh has water running through it. Since a bog is acidic it keeps trees stunted within the basin while they grow to full size along the perimeter.

Communal room in a sleeping lodge
Did I mention the FOOD? Some of the best I've eaten anywhere and I forgot to photograph its beautiful bounty until the last meal. So here is a salad in all its freshness.
The meals are served family style, and the staff goes above and beyond to be sure everyone has what they need.

Of course, this was a writing/illustrating retreat so there was solid programming that focused on ways to feed creativity by finding an art/life balance.

Kirby Larsen (Newbery Honor Book HATTIE BIG SKY) talked about how to slow down and sit with a problem awhile when frustration sets in. She suggested a drift journal to jot down seemingly unrelated stories to see where they may go.

Joni Sensel, who writes YA and middle grade fantasies, discussed the idea of liminal space and creativity. I loved the exercise of placing your character on a threshold/a doorway and see what happens. The unknown can be transformation, growth, or something monstrous. Whatever direction it takes it represents change.

One roundtable discussion yielded these ideas I find fascinating: Do some art for each chapter to get a refreshed view. Think of three disasters that could happen and a solution.

There was so much more, including inspiring talks from Candlewick illustrator Jennifer K. Mann and author Beth Bacon. If you can find such a retreat, go if you can, recharge your batteries and your heart.


Yvonne Osborne said...

What a lovely place! I've been to Bainbridge Island, two years ago, but didn't see anything this nice (obviously on the wrong side of the island) and I'd love to find a writer's retreat in my own neck of the woods. Thanks for sharing this one.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*waves at Yvonne* This place is so special. They mostly have sleepover events for schoolchildren to learn about how to be good stewards of our planet.
So my private room had bunkbeds in it where kids would sleep. :)
It's worth browsing their website to see all the things they do. It's quite impressive.