Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've mentioned my writer's retreat several times, so thought I'd finally blog the details about the amazing week I had in Park City with some (not enough) of my best friends. It all began when I realized we had one more week to use in our vacation club before mid december and an idea began to form.

I went to the hubby and said," Hun, I don't want a present for my birthday this year." He looked at me like I was nuts, which, basically I am, but that's beside the point. "Instead, I want TIME." Now he looks at me like I'm even crazier, but I continue. "We've got this week we have to use and it's already paid for so I'd like to use it as a writing retreat with my writing friends and see if I can't come home with 50,000 words written."

His answer? "Ooooooookay?" But he followed through and let me go, even knowing he would have the boys to himself for seven full days. I packed my bags and a TON of food, my laptop, a whole box (and I mean a pencil case) of pens, paper, my laptop, and hit the road on November 6th.

I drove up to meet my friend Lizzie in Bountiful, since that's about half way for both of us, picked her up, and after walking around the temple grounds for a bit, we went to lunch, then headed to the Bountiful library to write for a couple of hours. I was so excited I was having a hard time concentrating, and realized I had left the flash drive with the beginnings of my story on it at home. Home was about 50 miles away at this point, but thank heavens the library had internet access, even if it was slow, so I Instant Messaged my sweet husband, who found the flash drive, found the file, and e-mailed it to me. I could have kissed him.

After the library we finally headed up to Park City. I couldn't get there fast enough, though I did stay (mostly) within the speed limits. We finally found the place, the Sweetwater Lift Lodge, and checked in. The place was HUGE! I had asked for a one bedroom unit that would sleep four. We ended up with a one bedroom unit that slept six. It had a gigantic family room, a fireplace, two bathrooms, a bed that pulled out of the wall, and a teeeeeeeny kitchen, in addition to the ginormous two bed bedroom.

I was in heaven. The first thing I did was turn on the fireplace. That night, Lizzie wrote her heart out. I wrote a little, but not nearly enough. 1800 words. I was disappointed with myself.

Saturday was my birthday and I was struggling a bit. 39 is only one year from 40 and I was a little sad over it. I tried to write but had a really hard time getting into it. Finally that evening Lizzie offered to say a prayer and I won't go into details, but the spirit that was there freed me up and I finally was able to write. I got over 5,000 words done that night. My husband and sons showed up in the evening with my friend (who asked to remain nameless, due to playing hookie from work to come up), and two of my other friends Ali and Laura came up for dinner. We have a lovely evening together and good food and delicious cake made by my friend Shari (who couldn't come up but sent the cake anyway. She's a doll!). Ali and Laura had to leave after that, but everybody else stayed, including my family. They slept in the family room and I stayed out there with them.

Sunday we'd planned to go to church, but due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to attend and my family had to go home by noon. No writing on Sunday. We just enjoyed each other's company, talked, had a pillow fight (which my nameless friend recorded on her iphone, dang her!) and just chilled.

Monday we got back to work, Lizzie and me on writing, and the nameless one on edits. It was rather quiet around the place. We wrote and ate and slept and wrote and ate and slept for days. It was amazing. In 3 days I wrote almost 30,000 words.

Our nameless friend had to leave Tuesday evening, but we stuck it out until Thursday night.

My friend Lizzie made her 50,000 word goal while up there. I was so proud of her. I, on the other hand, was about 15,000 words short of my goal, but still, 35,000 words in 6 days of writing is pretty amazing.

The retreat taught me three amazing lessons. First, time is precious. Use every minute of it you can for the things you love, whether it be your family, your passion, or something else. Make use of it and don't let a second go to waste. Second, good friends are hard to find and more precious than gold. I have some very amazing friends. Third, you can do anything if you are willing to put in the work to do it and pray hard for help. Lizzie hit her goal because she wrote every spare moment she had, rather than messing around on FB or other random things like I did.

I learned other things as well, but I'll save those for another blog. This one is long enough as it is. Needless to say, my writing retreat was a fantastic experience and one I hope to repeat annually for many years to come.

Quote of the Day: Being an author is having angels whisper in your ear - and devils, too.

~Graycie Harmon


L.T. Elliot said...

It was fun to come up for a little bit and I'm very proud of you for having written as much as you did. I can't wait to read it. Glad you had such a great (productive) time.

jenica said...

i'm so glad you wrote about this! and seriously, nanowrimo is a MONTH of writing to get 50,000 words, so 35k in six days? hallelujah! you're amazing.


Marta O. Smith said...

What a wonderful birthday present! I may have to use your idea next summer, when I turn (mumble) years old.

elizabeth mueller said...

Hi Karen! It was a total blast being with you the entire week and also spending time with your family, Ali, Laura and our nameless friend (LOL!). I am so very grateful that you invited me--I was able to finish one novel and start another (I am almost done with the second one too!)
love you!!!