Bad blogger, Un-retreat
Yes, I’ve been a bad blogger lately, and being on vacation during Reading Week is a big part of my excuse — vacation means Home with Baby, and at present baby means No Computer Unless I Want the Keys Torn Off of the Keyboard.
Baby also means that going on a writing retreat or writing residency is something that I won’t be doing again for a long, long time. But I’ve been to a few good ones in my time, and I’ve gotten much good writing done while there.
The end of Reading Week saw what may be the last iteration of Red River’s Gemini Writers’ Retreat, which we nicknamed the Unretreat this year after having had to move it to campus–not exactly a retreat-like setting.
The setting, food, and schedule may have left a lot to be desired, but by all the accounts I’ve heard so far, students’ intensive meetings with the two writers-in-residence, David Elias and Susie Moloney, were productive.
The line between a residency and a retreat can be a little blurry. In my mind, a residency is more like a job: you might even get paid, but you likely have some kind of obligation to your host outside of writing (like giving a reading or workshop, or consulting on manuscripts). A retreat is won’t have duties other than writing, but you’re more likely to pay for it yourself instead of the other way around. In either case you might be alone or one of a group of writers or of artists from a variety of disciplines.
Writing programs with a formal workshop-type element are another thing still. The Sage Hill Writing Experience near Regina is one such, and I attended it in 2000 before my first book came out. I was in the workshop with Dennis Cooley. It’s a beautiful, inspiring place, with beautiful, inspiring writers.
With the Gemini Retreat floundering, I’m looking into applying for a Canada Council–sponsored writer-in-residence at the College, in lieu of the retreat. But that deadline is just a few days away, and I just thought of it yesterday–so wish me some luck.