Several others have already weighed in with their opinion of the first women writers’ retreat. What many of you may not know is the story of how this all came to fruition. It started with a conversation between two members of the High Desert Branch of the California Writer’s Club. They were discussing how other responsibilities often kept them from pursuing their true passion, writing.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could go away to an island where we could write without all of the distractions?” one of the women mused.
Apparently, one of them realized that it is possible to go away to an island, and the Escape to Catalina was conceived.
This women-only weekend was a truly unique experience because it was planned for each of the participants to also be one of the presenters. There were five women, and this translated to 5 sessions that ran from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours long. Each presenter was allowed to choose her own subject which, in retrospect, could have been a recipe for disaster with no one overseeing the overall plan. Instead of a disaster, the instructional sessions, which included lots of writing, fit together nicely. It came together so well, one would have thought much more time went into the overall organization.
The first evening was spent learning about the anatomy of a story and all of the components that need to be present in order for a story to come to life. The second day’s first presentation was about character development and what was required to truly bring them to life on the page. The instruction in creative non-fiction which followed helped us all realize that non-fiction writing didn’t have to be boring and technical as we learned how to write a recipe as creative non-fiction from the example of a grilled cheese sandwich recipe that was embedded in the description of the first time a future chef climbed onto a chair in her mother’s kitchen to make a sandwich. A subsequent session spent on voice and style was time well spent because as writers, we need to find our own voice so that we will stand apart from other writers. The conference closed with Blogging 101, which included excellent instruction about building and maketing your blog.
Between all of these sessions there was time to explore and/or write. It’s been nearly a month since the return from our weekend retreat, and I am still carrying around the notebook full of notes and ideas that came together from that weekend. In fact, I began the outline of my NaNoWriMo project during that weekend. Perhaps it was the presence of my local area’s NaNoWriMo coordinator that helped to propel me toward that goal.
I am very glad that I was able to escape with my fellow female writers to Santa Catalina Island. It was time well spent, and I returned feeling refeshed and with my muse reawakened. The real challenge will be to prevent it from slipping back into a coma now that we have returned to the demands and distractions of daily life.
**Patti can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes. She isn’t always successful.