‘Welcome to Heaven.’
This is how our small cohort of writers was greeted at our DIY writing retreat over the long weekend. Five of us (four full-time participants and one part-time participant) locked ourselves in a tiny cabin at Heaven in the Hills in Maleny. We were surrounded by rain forest; were warmed by a fireplace that glowed 24-hours a day for four days; slept to the sound of silence; were without mobile phone reception; lived without television or radio; and had the most wonderful time. This is despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that we had gone with a cheap DIY option and were crammed into such a tiny cabin that left one man sleeping on the verandah in a pink ‘fairy’ bed and one man sleeping on the floor in a nest of cushions. (Sometimes there are advantages to being female.)
Locked into such a tiny space we talked and brainstormed and problem-solved our way through twelve hours of conversation at a time. And never once did we fight. On the contrary; we were bursting with enthusiasm and support and laughter.
I came up with the idea for a DIY retreat after reading an article in The Writer magazine. I wanted to go on retreat and wondered who I could convince to come with me. I cast the net wide and left it up to fate as to who turned up. It worked like a charm. I wrote a program and everyone agreed to it. I offered a choice of two locations and everyone unanimously voted for the cabin. We slept little but dreamed lots. We wrote little but received more prizes than any of us thought was possible. We solved the big questions of our writing before we headed too far down the wrong path.
I simply could not have imagined a better time. (Okay if everyone had had their own bed/bedroom it would have been better… but I still wonder if that was part of the magic of this ‘writer survivor’ experience.)
Today I am struggling to keep hold of the magic of the weekend and carry it with me like a candle throughout my day lighting up my characters and plot with every breath I take. But as the wonderland fades a little with every chore found here in the ‘real’ world I know that I only have to open my book and write a sentenc in order to find it again.