How my children and I ended up at The Writing Barn nine days ago, on a Sunday:
Last October, I had the extreme pleasure of hosting Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus at my school, to speak about the book they co-authored, Grandfather Gandhi, illustrated by Evan Turk.
Mr. Gandhi's and Ms. Hegedus' booking agent is Carmen Oliver, who told me about Ms. Hegedus' retreat for writers. I had the pleasure of working with Ms. Oliver on several occasions after that, and the subject of the retreat came up again. P.J. Hoover even encouraged me to look into going during her author visit at our school.
I began following The Writing Barn's page on Facebook, and noticed they hosted "Write Away Days". For a small fee, you could spend the day working on writing projects in a beautiful, quiet setting. I was unable to attend the first few times I saw dates posted, but finally....a Sunday without other obligations! As I was emailing the program's assistant, I told my teen son that I was signing up. He asked for the details, then asked if he could go....so I included that request in the email as well.
The answer was an enthusiastic "Yes!", so he enrolled. I then told college daughter what we were doing...and she said, "I want to go, too!"
So the morning of July 12th found all three of us in the car, heading south to The Writing Barn. Carmen Oliver was our guide for the day. We were joined by a dozen other writers. We spent the first half hour getting coffee and tea and coming together to introduce ourselves and state our writing intentions for the day. Most people were working on fiction pieces--some reviewing manuscripts returned by editors, others just beginning stories by outlining or writing that very first sentence. One person was working on her doctoral dissertation! We then were free to find our own "space" to work. My children went off to find places in the other room and outside, while I stayed put in the air-conditioned room.
I had a hodgepodge of writing goals: book reviews for work, a blog post on the importance of play , journal questions for a webinar I'm participating in, and a couple of fiction pieces for children I've had in mind for awhile. Surrounded by other writers, I was amazed at how quickly I was able to get to work on projects I'd been unable to focus on at home. By the time we gathered again to eat our brought-from-home lunches, I had two book reviews and the blog post done!
After lunch, I went outside for awhile to work on my journal questions. One more task completed! Then it was back inside to write up one more book review, flesh out one story, and start working on the storyboard for another.
We wrapped up the day by coming together again and reviewing what we had accomplished. Everyone seemed happy with their productivity. Ideas, book titles, other writing programs, and avenues for publishing short stories were shared.
My children and I headed home, basking in the shared experience and talking about a repeat if the occasion arises. I'm hoping for monthly weekend Write Away Days, if only to catch up on my backlogged book reviews for work!