The Final Day of Writers Retreat

As writing goes, this was not my most productive day of the retreat. In part my brain is tired. It is not used to having so much time allotted to writing, thinking about writing, reading research for writing, and talking about writing. It just fizzled a bit. Also a very large portion of my brain remained determinedly focused on the fact that I get to go home tomorrow.

The day did include several lovely conversations and I feel like I’ve finally come to know most of my fellow retreat journeyers. We acquired in-jokes and a shared lexicon of references. It no longer feels odd to walk into a room, sit down next to someone and just start writing without speaking first. I noticed this fact because there was a new visitor today and I found myself reluctant to intrude on him, which let me know I’d gotten comfortable with everyone else.

I did do some writing math, which is the sort of thing I do when I’m trying to remain focused on writing even though my brain is tired.
During this week I’ve written 4211 words of blog posts and 2109 words of fiction. Averaged over 7 days that gives me about 902 words per day. These numbers feel pretty paltry when most of the writers here are aiming for 2000-3000 words per day. But even before I came I knew I would not be able to measure the success of this retreat by word count. I actually had an exchange with Mary pre-retreat where she suggested I define success for the retreat.

I count as my first success that I came with a secondary success that I did not leave early. This was a seriously scary trip to take for reasons that are not logical and which I’m still trying to parse.

I got to hang out with Mary, which is always a win. I will extend that success to cover everyone who was here. I’m glad to know all of them.

I hoped to finish my draft of Strength of Wild Horses. I haven’t.

I saw a cardinal. I only saw him for a moment and only on the first day. It was like a little promise of hope. And I now know why they’re often referred to as redbirds.

I walked in the woods every day, usually more than once. I took lots of pictures.

The last measure is observing what opens up in my head when I’ve put away all the business, household, and parent thoughts. I wasn’t able to fully put them away, but I was also able to begin creating fiction. I don’t think this one is complete yet. I need to go home and step back into my usual routines in order to be able to tell what has shifted around in my head.

So tomorrow I go home. Until then, here are a last set of forest pictures taken right after a rainfall.

The vines in the forest continue to fascinate me. I was explaining to Marilyn that we don’t have vines in western forests and she answered “Oh really?” as if she could not imagine a forest without vines and moss everywhere.

Mosses also fascinate me. Especially when I got up close to them.

When you get even closer you can see all the tiny fronds.

This mushroom made me think of a dancing skirt. I could imagine it frozen mid-motion.

When I arrived almost all of the leaves were green. By today leaves are beginning to turn colors and fall. I suspect next week the whole forest will change colors. I’ll not be here to see it.

I’ll be sad to leave the forest. I’ve walked all the paths into familiarity and yet I find something new every single time.