*warning, don’t scroll down if you have a weak stomach*
After the train evacuation, we were eager to relax in the pool and watch fireworks, but the next few days were real work. I had invited my writers’ group to my parents house for a mini writers’ retreat. It’s really easy to set up a retreat. Here’s an example of our schedule:
9-10: Yoga. Fortunately one of our members is a yoga instructor, but if you don’t have this in your group you can do gentle stretches, or take a walk outside.
10:30-11: A prompt from The Writer’s Toolbox. After writing for fifteen minutes, we passed our computers to the person to our left to read it out loud. It was incredible to hear the diversity of stories we were able to come up with using the same prompt. It was also refreshing to hear someone else reading your work.
11-1: Working on our stories with a 5 minute break in the middle to stretch.
1-2: lunch and discussion about work.
2-3: Art time: We designed the covers of our future novels. I loved doing this because not only is it fun and motivating, I realized a major theme in my story that I never picked up on until I was drawing it. Sometimes all you need is to take a new approach!
3-6: A longer writing block.
6-7:30 : discussion of problem areas in our novels.
7:30-9: Dinner. (We didn’t have a chance to do this, but I thought it would be fun for each writer to prepare a meal that their main character would eat. Knowing what your character eats gives you surprising insight.)
9-11: A rousing game of Cards Against Humanity played with my parents. It was priceless to hear my dad ask, “now what the heck is queefing?”
I should have just stuck to writing, because everything was going great, but then I just had to have some relaxation. On the last day, we decided to spend some time out by the pool.
The second I opened the door to go outside, a hornet flew into my face and stung me below my left eyebrow. Within an hour my eye swelled shut. The pain was intense, but I tried to ignore it. I have an Epipen because I’m allergic to ants (what?!?! who’s allergic to ants?), but since the swelling was localized, I didn’t use it. The swelling went down by nighttime…
And then I woke up at 6am because it felt like there was a burning potato shoved under my eyelid. My eye had swelled up even worse. I called my doctor and left a message on the emergency line. Mike went out to get me benadryl. By the time the on-call doctor called me back, my eye felt like it weighed 200 pounds. The doctor told me to go to the ER. I asked him if I could just take the benadryl, and he said absolutely not. After waiting at the ER for two hours, and giving them all my hard-earned money, the ER doctor told me to take benadryl! Aghh I hate our medical system.
It took four full days for the swelling to go down. I have to admit it was really depressing. I was taking double doses of benadryl, so I was sleeping every other hour, and I couldn’t really talk because my jaw had swelled up, and I was really scared that there would be some permanent damage. I guess this is what happens when a city girl spends time outdoor. On Monday I tried to write my mini memoir, but after an hour of typing I don’t think I stumbled on a single real word.
Now that I’m all back to normal, I would have to say I’d do it all over again. That’s right, the train evacuation and bee sting were nothing compared to the fun, and engaging weekend I had with my writer friends.
I’m really grateful to my parents who hosted us. If you’re not so fortunate to have parents close enough to visit, but far enough to make it feel like a real getaway, I suggest splitting the cost of a cabin rental with your friends. There are cabins in the Catskills that rent for under $150 a night.
If you don’t have a writers’ group, or a group of friends that have a similar creative goal, I would suggest going on Meetup to find a group. Having friends to motivate and inspire me in my writing goals has made the difference between wanting to be writer, and actually sticking with it through the highs and lows. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be 🙂