I'm jet lagged and suffering the after effects of accepting too many cups of wine from the uber-cheery flight attendants of KLM's transatlantic service. We 're halfway through a return trip from Vienna, where the family and I spent a couple of weeks celebrating my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. (I just hope I'm able to tromp all over cobblestone streets like Mama Cheng does when I'm 90. The woman is amazing.)
I fell madly in love with Vienna. Every corner we turned revealed some medieval-era nook that begged to be explored. There was one bad moment when my wallet got pick pocketed (shame on me for letting my tourist's guard down), but even that misfortune turned positive. We wound up meeting a charming member of the Austrian Polizei; the officer called the credit card companies for me, offered insights about crime and police work in the city, and invited us to tour an amazing military history museum. Our encounter was (almost) worth the pain of losing my driver's license.
Mama Cheng is a huge Mozart fan, so of course we made a pilgrammage to the composer's haunts. The home where he lived during his most successful years is now a museum; its walls are inscribed with his sayings. In one quote, Mozart describes being surrounded by neighbors who included a music teacher, a violinist, and a singer. To paraphrase Mozart: "Being surrounded by the music of other artists gives me many useful ideas for my own work."
As writer-artists, I think we've all experienced the creative boost that comes from the company of other writers. I always return from a writer's conference with new perspectives and a renewed enthusiasm for writing. And of course, TKZ's mission is to provide a virtual watering hole where we share experiences with the craft, hoping to inspire and be inspired.
But Mozart's quote got me thinking that it might be good to seek out even more intensive interaction, such as a writing retreat. I've never been on a retreat, but I visualize it as being peopled with the kind of folk you find at the bar at conferences. Only instead of a bar, we'll be hanging out at a cozy lodge overlooking some sylvan scene. There has to be a fireplace, of course, and great discussions. Other than that, I'm open to suggestions. Have any of you ever been on a writing retreat? How was the experience?