Jacqueline Davies, who is all over the place this summer, has an article in the May/June issue of the SCBWI Bulletin called When in Doubt: Retreat!
I've toyed with the idea of attending a writers' retreat, just as I've toyed with so many other things--attending a writers' conference or graduate school, for instance. But the problem with doing any of these things is that they might be too much work. And I might have to do things I don't want to do. Plus the business about too much work.
After reading Davies' article, I got to thinking about things I'd like to do on a retreat, and I realized that reading was high on my list. (I still haven't given up on finding a job reading that pays and provides benefits.) And then I thought, why not just set up my own retreat for reading?
This is actually more practical than it sounds. I am overwhelmed with stuff to read. I've got piles of it around here. A lot of it is what I consider professional reading--a book of essays because I'm interested in writing same, a couple of books on writing that a young relative brought home for me from college (They're virtually untouched--hmmm.), writing magazines I've started and never finished, things I've downloaded from the Internet.
This past winter I set up a system in which I set aside Thursdays for reading. I had a class in the morning and another late in the afternoon, so I just spent the intervening time working on this serious reading. That was okay for a few weeks, but what often happens to me is that I end up losing workdays for life maintenance (scavenging for food, shopping for family events, cleaning for guests) or for dealing with sick relatives, medical appointments, etc. And, uh, going hiking. Long weekends. Whatever. Then I really need those Thursday hours to write.
I also tried to do a little professional reading every morning before getting started work. That was lovely for about three days. Then I realized it was cutting into my Internet surfing and gave it up.
So now I'm thinking about going on a reading retreat every two or three months. I have a sunroom, after all, and even though its windows haven't been washed for two years, it would be a decent retreat space in good weather. I have a woodstove, which is a necessity for reading in the winter.
I'm serious about trying this, but I can already foresee a problem. If I schedule a reading retreat day and end up losing time from work that week because of any of the reasons given above, I'm not going to feel I can sacrifice more time for reading. But I will be positive and believe that everyone will remain healthy, no vehicles will break down, and my hard drive (which often sounds very odd) will continue to limp along.
And this new schedule will be just the thing I need to make me absolutely brilliant and productive.