There is a formula for a perfect writer's retreat: a Maine beach house + two 1/2 days + a schedule + amazing writing partners = success. Actually, success = three chapters + a more fully fleshed out timeline + incredible momentum to keep going. What it didn't yield for me and my three writing partners was a name. We've been meeting bi-weekly for five years and for those five years my husband says to me every other week, "are you meeting up with the Women?" Which is a fairly terrible name, like a bad film remake or something. We tried. We consulted a worn 1884 copy of Clubs and Club Life of London (this is 1908 version if you are curious) which we found in a bookshelf full of ancient books and photo albums. We learned about the Beef-Steak Society, the Blue Stocking Club and the Boodles, but alas, it didn't give us ideas. We dug through Roget's 1911 Thesaurus, which we all agreed is a writer's best friend (we also shared fond stories of our own dog-eared copies we used as kids before traditional thesaurus' really became popular). Nada. We are still Nameless.
But we gained a monster amount of momentum, sunk thousands of words into our novels (or revisions of our novels), a deep appreciation for the Maine coast, and an even deeper bond of friendship. Anita Shreve's house apparently was within walking distance and we tried to convince ourselves that writing in the shadow of such success could only bode well for us.
We took a walk every day at noon, we headed into Kennebunkport and Portland for dinner, we had wonderful breakfasts and lunches that we made together then took down to the little beach to discuss that morning's writing. We were woken up at 1:19 AM on Saturday--a wedding party had taken over the little beach below the house and scared the pee out of us when the first big cracks of light hit the sky. It was a beautiful display but we were bleary-eyed and full of dreams. I still managed to find my camera in the dark (see the photos below).
We kept to a schedule and overall we had somewhere around 15-17 hours of solid writing time. It was heaven. I was on such a roll and I really didn't want it to end. I could have done that for another week, writing in such flow.
I feel so inspired that I decided I'm going to do CampNaNoWrimo this July and try for 30-50K words in the month ahead. I want a first draft of BOOK II by my birthday in June of next year. Totally doable if I just keep my ass in the chair, right? Right.
That way, next summer when we traipse up to Maine once more, I'll be editing and cleaning and making everything anew. Now there is a goal I can aspire to!