A few weeks ago, I got to cross something off of my author bucket list.
I went on a writing retreat.
Now don't get me wrong, I've gone on those before but normally I was alone and it was only for a weekend. This time I had the opportunity to go with five other amazing writers for an entire week!
I flew from North Carolina to California and other than a three-hour delay at my layover in Chicago, that part of the trip was positively delightful. When I landed in San Diego, three of the five girls were there and roaming the airport! I met up with one of them (by accident) in the ladies room! Lol! We had a car pick us up and take us to Oceanside where we had three condos right on the beach. The pier was literally right across the street and when you stood out on the balcony, it was all just right there. I LOVE the sound of the ocean. When I'm home, I have a sounds of the ocean CD that I listen to when I'm writing and need to block out the sounds of my family. So to be able to open the door and just hear it AND see it?
I was so happy, I almost cried.
Until it rained.
And was cold.
And the freight train that goes by forty-flobbity-jillion times a day sucked my will to live.
Ever After Romance Authors - to share it with our readers. It was a riot and from the response we got, we weren't the only ones to think that!
Then someone mentioned Disneyland.
Have I ever mentioned my love of all-things Disney? Or that I've been to Disney World in Florida 18 times? Disneyland was another bucket list item and we were only an hour away! How was I supposed to concentrate on writing knowing that the ORIGINAL Disney theme park was so close??? So I did all of my editing that I needed to do, and all of my marketing questionnaires and brainstormed and plotted my next book all by Tuesday night. After that, I felt like any work I did was just a bonus to get me ahead. So...one of my girls took pity on me and took me there for a day!
If you heard a random YIPPEE on Thursday, March 2nd, that was me!
On Friday, we drove up to LA and did a bit of a driving tour through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and saw a lot of famous landmarks while on our way to do a signing at THE RIPPED BODICE!! If you've never heard of that, it's the only all-romance bookstore in the U.S.! Actually, it's located in Culver City and it's amazing. If you have the chance to go, you totally should. We arrived early - which was amazing considering we had been having such a great time sight-seeing - and after going and introducing ourselves to the sister-duo who own the store, we went and grabbed some dinner. Then it was time to get pretty and prepare to meet some readers! We did a panel discussion and signed books and on the two-hour drive back to Oceanside I even got to try In-N-Out Burger! Suffice it to say that by this time, I felt like I had the total California experience!
On our last night we did a fancy dinner at this great restaurant on the beach and it was the perfect ending to an amazing week. We laughed and ate some amazing food (surf and turf for me!) and just really took the time to reflect on all that we gained by having the time together. I think that what made this retreat so relaxing and doable - at least for me - was that we weren't all together all of the time. Three condos meant that everyone had their own bedroom and their own bathroom and it was nice to have a place of your own to retreat to at the end of the day.
Writing is kind of a lonely profession. You write from home (normally) and you can spend days or weeks alone in the writing cave with nothing but emails and text messages to communicate with the outside world. But to be able to sit and talk to people who do what you do and know exactly what you're feeling and can relate to your struggles with writer's block or how overwhelming marketing can be or the frustration that comes with cover designs? It was priceless.