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Oxymoron: Writer's Retreat
One reader said that the plot of Night Voices was fine, but what he really appreciated was that I got the sailing right!
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Every April, I am presented with a number of deadlines. These are not, however, of the writer's sort. The deadlines I face are largely due to the weather. When spring comes around, the marina near where I live becomes a very busy place. All the docks that were pulled in against the Lake Erie winters get redeployed and all the boat owners rush to a parking lot that is filled, not with cars, but with boats "on the hard" (as we sailors refer to them). Two weeks ago, I managed to get the bottom of my sloop scrubbed and painted. Last week, I was scheduled to be at a "writer's retreat" in Nashville. I tried to judge the line of boats that stood in line for launching and figured that Drinian would be in the water when I returned. While that sounds like good news, it was not. I wasn't ready to be in the water. Nevertheless, I put a battery onboard in the event that she would be launched and the engine would have to be started.


I got back from my "retreat" on Saturday and found Drinian sitting where I had left her. This morning I waxed and polished her topsides as the marina staff said "After lunch!" I just made my spring deadline. At the same time I was struck by the oddity of the phrase "writer's retreat". While I was there, it was much like work. As I was waxing, it struck me that the real retreats are the ones I take on the winds and waves of Lake Erie. Sailing is the real retreat! (No wonder it shows up in so many of my novels.) Do other writers share my perception? The real retreats are the ones that renew the spirit. The events we attend, while elevating the craft, are something complely different.