A Response to the Survey
The results and comments I’ve gotten back from the retreat survey have been varied and helpful. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to share their opinions. If you have not done so, I encourage and welcome your input.
The conference vs. retreat comparison was mentioned more than once. So I decided to do a little “re”search, google-style.
When I think about a retreat, words like spiritual, inspirational, perhaps even wellness or holistic come to mind. While googling I found enumerable retreats– there are spa retreats (for you and your bff), yoga & health retreats (for those of us who are into keeping fit –this one wouldn’t be for me) retreats for couples (I’m not sure my husband would consider it beneficial to his mind or body to be isolated with me, in a remote location without ESPN.) And, of course, church sponsored retreats.
Simply put, retreats equal silence, solitude and companionship.
A person who ‘retreats’ does so to work on their physical or spiritual well-being – not unlike authors who seek solitude to refresh our minds and bodies—recharge our batteries, if you will.
As writers we need to indulge our inner muse once in awhile. Take a break from our daily life and commune with others with like interests and be among supportive friends and fellow writers in a relaxing atmosphere. A venue like Yarrow is the ideal location for a retreat from harsh reality with its beautiful setting away from the hustle and bustle of life.
A conference, on the other hand, by definition is a prearranged meeting for consultation or exchange of information or discussion, especially one with a formal agenda. I think of words like workshops, sessions, lectures, presentations, seminars, topics, committees, goals, programs, schedules…I think you get the idea.
A conference can be very beneficial to a writer. We broaden our knowledge on any number of topics. We are with other people who share the same interests as we do –and who are willing to share their time and knowledge presenting to a group. The agenda keeps the pace and moves the event moving forward.
There is nothing wrong with either a retreat or a conference. As far as I am concerned both offer important elements to a writer. I think our Retreat from Harsh Reality is a combination of both. We have a mini conference at a retreat venue which is fine as long as it is what we desire.
I think we must also consider people from outside our chapter. What will they be expecting from a “retreat?”
As our chapter grows and our finances allow, if we think outside the box or at least beyond the parameters set in the past, our possibilities are endless. I think it would be nice if we could offer two special events; one in the spring and one in the fall. If not every year, perhaps we could rotate.
For instance we could continue with the Retreat from Harsh Reality in the springtime, where we would connect with each other in a relaxed environment with minimal structure and maximum freedom to write, network or meet in small groups. The goal(s) of the weekend would be for each individual to determine for themselves.
In the fall, we could hold a small conference at another venue which could be more cosmopolitan, perhaps a hotel with catering and meeting rooms where we could hold break-out sessions, mini-workshops, and critiques. This could be an ideal time to have our guest speaker.
We could even shake it up and host our writer’s retreat in the fall. I imagine the fall colors around Yarrow would be beautiful in early October; the setting both inspiring and rejuvenating.
We are only limited by our imagination and we all know as writer’s our imagination is endless.
Obviously, none of this is going to happen overnight—our retreat will remain, for the most part, as it has been in the past. I just wanted to share some thoughts “my imagination” has been tossing around.