Saturday, 10 May 2014

Writing Retreat

Writing Retreat Experience: I will be writing this as I go along, and posting Sunday when I get home.

Friday, May 9
Night One:

I left work early so I wouldn't get here late. Getting out of town was a bit delayed because I had to pick up my car from the garage. Luckily, everything was good to go with it, and I left Saskatoon.

I haven't travelled anywhere on my own in almost a year so I actually really enjoyed the ride up. I thought a lot about the fact that driving is the only time I allow myself to completely disconnect from the world, other than what's in front of me (or who is with me) while driving. I spend a lot of time on social media, as we all know, and it's nice to take a break, listen to music and sing really loud without any worry in the world.

My Travel music. Was a free CD from work. Great singing songs. 

I arrived just in time for supper, and had a delicious meal after getting a tour of the building. Basically a serve yourself type meal. I guess most of their food is made or grown here.

St Peter's Abby is attached to St Peter's College, and is basically dorm room style or hostel style. This is what I see both directions when I look out my room.

However, this is what I see when I look out the window:

Rooms with beds, a desk, and a sink. There aren't a lot of distractions (yet).

Writing Desk
Beds: One for my stuff and one for me!

Sink and Bed

I met the rest of the Writing Retreat crew at supper. Ashleigh was the only person I knew. All of us make 7 writers. They asked me to talk a little about what I write. They all arrived last night, so I was the newbie of the gang. I told them I had written and edited my first novel, and it's been sent to a publisher. I described it quite well, slowly but surely I'm getting better at describing the plot in few words. They had questions about it, and all seemed interested.

Brought my writing glasses and everything.

It seems as though my writing style is a bit different than most. There are a few poets in the group, and more fantasy style writers. I feel a little out of my element, but I don't. We are all writers.

Tonight, we met in the common area at 9, and each read pieces that we wanted to share. The writing was great. Funny, interesting, intriguing. I can't wait to hear and read more from all of them.

I read a bit of my novel. I stumbled a bit, and saw changes I wanted to make, but I think I did okay. I read a bit from the first chapter, and appreciated the comments. There is an English teacher here, who told me she'd love to teach it (or show it) to her class. We discussed whether or not it was 'young adult'. I think it can be for sure. The narrator is 30, but that doesn't mean the book itself can't relate to all ages.

I already have planned which part I'll read tomorrow. The major drama/spoiler chapter.

Now, it's off to bed.

Saturday, May 10

The beds are small, and because I am a brilliant tosser and turner, I had a bit of a fear I'd roll out last night. I did okay though. Something about the beds made me think of sleepovers at my Grandma and Poppy's house. The twin beds and all.

I didn't close my blinds last night, so my wake up call was the sun at 6 a.m. I fell back to sleep after sleepily taking a picture. I'll probably leave them open tonight as well. Living in a basement suite, and just finishing up winter, I quite enjoy the warm and fuzzy feeling of waking up to sun.

Breakfast was served at 8am, so I rolled out of bed around 7:45. I'll take any sleep in I can get.

Breakfast was delicious. There's something about a whole weekend of not cooking, and not having to decide what to eat.

After breakfast, a couple of us grabbed some peanuts to take to the birds. I guess, a long time a go, one of the Monks taught the chickadees to eat out of his hands, and the birds taught one another throughout the years, and the result is this:

Photo: Feeding chickadees. Quick way to get over a fear of birds. True story: that's my hand! #writingretreat

I actually am usually a little scared of birds, but I guess it appears, it's the bigger ones I'm not a fan of. This was pretty cool. That's two different birds in the pictures.

Then, I grabbed some more coffee, and headed to my room to write. Which means, it's time to stop blogging and start writing for the rest of my morning.

Also: Sometimes I get distracted. I get why people come up on Thursday night. That would give me Friday to be half distracted/half writing, and Saturday to full out write.

Opposite of writing...


I didn't take a picture of the lunch, but I have to share this, the food here is great. Really great.

Since the afternoon is here, I will have a glass of wine while I write a little more, before heading out to hear a harpist. Oh... and not procrastinate.

As a side note, there are also some Romance Writers here. I'm finding them very interesting, and would love to eavesdrop on their creative sessions. They're all woman around 40 and up. I wonder if they are writing from experience, or writing about what they wish they had?

Another side note: I miss C like crazy. I'm still having fun, but it feels like he's missing, and every once in a while I feel very homesick for him. How's that for romance?

Went to see a harpist at 2. I've never seen one live before. Pretty cool, and she can play almost anything. Harps are expensive... that's what I learned. (25 thousand).

The music made me sleepy, so instead of coming straight back to my room, I headed out for a walk with some peanuts. I saw the graveyard they have. I'm not sure if this is morbid, I actually don't think it is, but something about graveyards intrigues me. Possibly because they're full of stories that I don't know.

And then, I made friends with a lot of chickadees and became a Disney Princess for 15 minutes.

I'm hoping this will work. I took some video as well.

I'm finding it hard not to blog. I'm not sure if it's a form of procrastination, or if it is something I've finally made such a habit, that I'm not used to being without it. I want to hit publish every time I update. Ah well, back to Kristy (aka, novel number 2). It's convenient that I can just switch back and forth between my novel and blog.

I think one of the things I like about this retreat is I don't always have to be social. I love talking to people and hearing about what they're doing, but it's also nice closing my door and writing (or blogging).


Last evening here. Same sort of dealio as yesterday. Had supper. Then writing time. I went up to look at the view at the top floor of the building. Ashleigh showed me this great little nook, and I went to see it again.
I decided to take a quick shower before getting back to writing. I walked by a second bathroom, realising it was the ladies bathroom. I've been using the men's room all weekend. Classy as always. Haha.

I was almost a little disappointed. I thought we had run out of time to read tonight. I actually didn't know we would read at all, and wasn't expecting it last night. I am glad we did end up reading again tonight. I had the chance to read the most dramatic spot in the novel. It was great practice for me to read it, and to hear the reactions of others after I've read it. I know how I felt writing it, but until I test it out on people, I don't really know how they're feeling.

And now, I'm heading to bed because relaxing is exhausting.

Oh, and there's this: From this morning at 6 to just before 9 pm.

 Photo: Sun rise at 6, sun setting at 8:45. What a lovely day. #gratitude  #writingretreat

Sunday May 11th,

Really, all there will be is morning posted, as we will be heading home after lunch. This entire stay cost me about $160, which seems like a great deal to me. I mean, no it's not an actual hotel, and we share bathrooms (in my case, I share both), but that also included delicious meals, nature, and the opportunity to write. I'd say it was a deal. 

Just heading to the 8 a.m. breakfast, and next I will either do some novel plotting... or take a nap. I haven't decided. Although, I could do both. I won't be able to fully decide until I have some coffee.

Waffles and fruit for breakfast. I'm really going to miss this place!

I also had one more walk before I started writing:

One more hour of writing, and then I'll eat one more meal and head back to real life. I'm looking forward to the next retreat.

I'm also looking forward to getting home to C. Miss him miss him miss him.

One more hour of plotting out my next novel. I've decided that I can't just dive into writing it like I did the last time. I've got to figure out where each of the characters are now. The first was easier because I had been thinking about the plot for years. This one will take a bit more developing and note taking. It's the perfect lunchtime activity because I can use a journal to write instead of my laptop. I can also write thoughts down at any time.

That's it for the longest post ever. If anybody has the chance, make sure to visit St. Peter's Abby. (Or go on a writing retreat!) 


And as always:

©ErinLeahMcCrea All photos I share on my blogs are my own, please Ask Me For Permission Before Using Them.


  1. Hi Erin

    I really enjoy your photo blog posts. Thanks for sharing your writing retreat experience with me. It inspires me to find one here in Southern California. Thanks again! :)

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      Thanks for reading! I think this retreat started when a few writer friends decided to try it out. I think this is the third year, but the first I went to. I was invited by a friend, and am so grateful for it! I hope you find one!