I’ve never been to a writers’ retreat, so I've invented my own.
My favorite retreat is my usual writer’s seat: It's a big comfortable living room armchair, facing the bank of windows which give onto the west side of the 600-square-foot balcony of our apartment.
There's an apartment building a fair distance away from ours, so I can't see into their windows and they can't see into mine. The apartments up this way are surrounded by pine and spruce, in the summer interspersed with leaves of birch and other hardwoods. The highway, which isn't all that far away, can't be heard through the phalanx of trees. Night and morning they are sentinels, silhouetted against the lighter sky, an embankment of protection.
My husband and I live on the seventh floor of our building, which sits on the highest point in Halifax. On good mornings, if you walk around the corner of the balcony, you'll see a sunrise. Grey clouds are imprinted on robin’s-egg blue streaks, and salmon, pink and yellow intersect the blue.
On good evenings, from the living room, you'll see a sunset of vivid yellows and oranges that fade to washed watercolors. At night, the lights of the city twinkle and glitter below us, and yellow light gleams in friendly fashion from apartment windows here and there, and homes in the distance, in among the wooded areas.
Our living room is softly furnished in golds and browns, a soothing backdrop, and my husband’s familiar paintings hang on walls across from each other. There is a bookcase beside me, loaded with my some of my favorite reading and a few knickknacks.
My laptop sits on the coffee table, occasionally on my lap, while the television blares in the background. I tune out the noise, in my own world, and glance up from time to time to view the occasional program.
My husband sits on the sofa, knitting dishcloths or making coasters to give away, and we comment occasionally, but don’t talk. I get impatient when the phone rings and takes me out of my mood.
I’ve never had the opportunity to write at a retreat and have someone critique it, nor have I read my work to a group of strangers.
I work alone.
When I finish writing, I read it to my husband. With a mild comment, he lets me know if he likes it.
I hit submit.
© Copyright 2011 by Barbara Pottie Holmes