Magical Words Summer Party Talk


Hi guys!  Hope you’re all having a wonderful, not-too-steamy summer!  We have an open day, so it’s time for Party Talk!  The Magical Words team is all set to answer one of the questions readers have posed, so here we go.  Today’s question is…

A fabulously rich, anonymous donor has offered to send you on a month-long writing retreat, all expenses paid, anywhere in the world.  So where would you want to go?

David B Coe/D B Jackson

See, the problem with this question is that it’s too easy to work at cross purposes with oneself.  Where do I want to go?  Well, Paris would be nice.  Or, if it’s nature I’m craving, then the high desert near Sedona, Arizona is one of my favorite places in the world.  I love Moab, Utah, too.  And the Oregon Coast.  But if this fabulously rich donor sent me to any of these places, I would have a wonderful time, and I probably wouldn’t write a word. If the point of this is to get me to work, then a Motel 6 along the New Jersey Turnpike is probably my best option — no distractions, no scenery to look at, nothing to do but write.

Diana Pharaoh Francis

I’m with David a bit, but even so, I think I would want to go somewhere around Banff or Victoria Island and be in a place with walls of windows and a huge deck where I could sit outside and work. I’d also like room service with all sorts of fabulous foods. The thing is, I love both places, but I’m leaning harder toward Victoria–I love the cold ocean. I’d also like daily massages. And an oceanside hot tub. I would get writing done. Really. Hey David, I’ll see you at Motel 6.

James Tuck

Alright Richie Rich, the richest little boy in the world, you put me and mine on a hot plane to Ireland. Find me an Irish farmhouse on a seaside cliff that has a barn converted into a bed and breakfast as close to Galway as you can. I want it all, lush grass, ocean salt air, fog, horses, and a bustling woman named Maire who will cook like a house on fire. Oh, and arrange for Ken Bruen to swing by with some nice pipe tobacco and a bottle of whiskey.

Mindy Klasky

Of course, a month-long writing retreat isn’t the same thing as a month-long vacation (sigh…  Can we get our rich, anonymous donor to give us a reward, after we finish all that writing?) In the interest of being productive, I’d wait until the middle of winter, then head to a beach house on the Outer Banks, in North Carolina.  I’d want one of those huge houses that faces out on the ocean directly (after all, mid-winter isn’t hurricane season!), so that the sunrise over the sea would awaken me.  I’d have long writing sessions in the morning and the afternoon, ending the day with walking a couple of miles up or down the beach (starting off walking into the wind, whichever direction it’s coming from that day, and ending with the wind to my back.)  Off-season rentals aren’t *that* expensive, so I’d make sure that my donor also provided services — an unobtrusive cook, a massage therapist, and someone to sweep up the sand!

Now, about that post-retreat vacation?  I’d head off to the Greece, for a brief stay in Athens, followed by extensive island touring, with a knowledgeable guide/escort telling me all the history, so I could weave more stories!

Faith Hunter

Vacation? I’m not sure what a vacation is, but what the others are describing sounds like fun. As to the writing retreat, a fully stocked house on the top of a mountain, fabulous views all around, an office up high, like an eagle’s nest (but with a roaring hickory wood fire), with a cook and a massage therapist and a housekeeper. Snowed in. No where to go, nothing to do. Just write.

Lucienne Diver

I’d want a beautiful ocean-front villa on St. Pete beach in Florida. I know, I know, I could have chosen the French Riviera or any number of more exotic locales, but the truth is that if I picked something too exciting (and it would always be sea or oceanside), I’d be way too distracted wanting to explore and unlikely to get much writing done.  But St. Pete is close enough to drive and would have nightlife for when I just can’t stare any longer at a computer screen.
Carrie Ryan

What a nice thing to daydream about…

I’d go to the French countryside — probably a bastide town large enough to have a few boulangeries (bakeries) and restaurants, but small enough to be quiet and off the tourist track.  I’d choose a town that still had a weekly market showcasing fresh food from the local farms and with a nearby cave (wine cellar) to keep the refrigerator stocked with rosé.  I’d sleep with the windows open at night, write in the morning, and be done in time for wine and cheese with my husband (co-writer) in the afternoon (hey, so long as we’re daydreaming, I get to have my writing done at a reasonable hour, right?)

Misty Massey

I’d spend my month in French Polynesia, preferably in an overwater suite like this one.   I’d be up with the sun (yeah, I know, I’m weird like that) so I’d make my room service choices early, then I could start writing while the light was soft.  If I got tired I could take a dip by stepping right outside my suite, then dry off and get back to work again.  The breeze and the gentle lapping of water beneath my feet would be the perfect white noise. 


6 comments to Magical Words Summer Party Talk

  • I’m with David… if I went any of the places I’d want to go, I wouldn’t get a word written. But if the travel djinn whisked me off to my good friend’s place, with whom I started the never-ending Epic, we’d probably write 30,000 words in two days, all of it good!

  • I’ve had the nowhere to go, nothing to do but write scenario in grad school. I ended up doing things like jogging through my sex-offender infested neighborhood at 3am because I couldn’t sleep or talking to the clerk at the all night grocery store because I hadn’t spoken to another human being in three days.

    So I’ll go for misty eyed nostalgia on this one. I’d like an all expense paid trip back to Columbus OH and my old table back at Stauf’s Coffee – the one with the wobbly leg by the outlet. In my mind the lawyer who comes to read his briefs is still at the second table down, the other tables are full of med students memorizing surgical procedures and graduate students typing furiously or grading. I get an endless supply of their Winter Spice tea blend, the Darjeeling, and the Early Grey. I can have all the bagels, minestrone soup and vegan spice cookies I want. The punk pixie baristas are all still there. Emily is there at her old table too (if she wants.) And late at night I run through dark streets full of fireflies to sit on the top of the monkey bars and listen to the frogs by the river.

  • mudepoz

    As long as there’s Chai, and NO FREAKY Beak, life is good.

  • Razziecat

    Interesting answers…seems like a lot of you guys want to be by the sea. If I could go on a month-long writing retreat, I’d want it to be somewhere like that, a beach, or maybe an isolated forest cabin.

    On second thought, if the rich benefactor would take all of my neighbors away for a month, I could stay in my cozy house and get lots done without the usual surrounding noise. 😉

  • Oh, put me on a mountain in a log cabin near a lake in spring or fall. I don’t need snow, but it should be cold enough at night to make the hot tub heavenly, and cool enough for a good blaze in the fire place most of the time. And if I’m going to be there for a month, I’d want at least one (or three) good, roaring thunder bumper of a storm with lightning, tree-shaking winds, and drumming rain.

    Oh – and a massage therapist/sadist with fingers of steel….

  • Diana, if you want to go to Vancouver Island (I’m assuming that’s what you meant, considering Victoria Island is in the arctic) I would definitely avoid Victoria unless you want to do a lot of tourism and sightseeing. You’d probably much prefer the quiet of Parksville, which is farther up-island. It faces the mainland and the view is lovely and the beach is incredible. Or if you’d rather the external coast, then definitely check out Tofino or Uclulet.

    Wherever I went, as long as it was all-inclusive (and that means massages, too!), had access to power but not necessarily internet, is definitely surrounded by nature, with the option of being able to simply go inside but be able to look out on it. Writing outside in nature can sometimes be a challenge, what with all of the bugs.

    Come to think of it, I’ve been writing outside already in the backyard lately. I have to wear headphones, though, or I get distracted by the loud neighbours.