© 1996 by Robyn Amos
This article may not be reprinted or distributed without
the author's permission.
Writing has always been described to me as a
solitary profession, but since I joined a critique group,
I've never felt alone. These women who rescue the dangling
participles, lighten the purple prose, and help support the
sagging middles of my manuscript have almost as much invested
in my success as I do. That's why when someone suggested we
retreat to a mountain top for a weekend of intensive writing,
I was all for it. I also didn't believe for a minute that
we would actually write—but I was pleasantly surprised.
The adventure started after work on a Friday
evening, when we met and drove convoy to a house in Cumberland,
Maryland, rented specifically and exclusively to writers.
The drive alone, up a curving road and past gnarled, twisted
trees was enough to get some of us inspired. We came prepared
with a printer, a supply of paper, laptops for all, and a
hearty supply of junk food.
The house was the perfect writer's haven. The
kitchen was quaint and fully stocked, though a home-cooked
lunch and dinner were provided by the couple who rented the
property. There was a comfortable living room pre-stocked
with writing reference materials and a wood-burning stove,
a narrow "conference" area with a long table for
writing and discussions, and four bedrooms with an average
of three beds in each.
We spent Friday night winding down with junk food, silliness,
writer affirmations, tarot cards, and finally a late night/early
morning crash plotting session.
Saturday morning, we woke at a reasonable hour,
cooked breakfast, then retreated to our respective corners
to write and read the material we were given to critique.
We each worked through the afternoon, and when hunger pangs
interrupted the flow of words, lunch magically appeared in
During the course of the day, some became so
fiercely protective of their writing time, they were driven
to making obscene gestures when interrupted for dinner. By
evening, we'd all gravitated to the living room where we read,
mostly talked, and hardly wrote at all, in preparation of
our marathon critique session that night.
All in all, the weekend was a success, with
only one minor mishap--an unexpected bout of PMS which was
successfully relieved with a handy supply of chocolate. Sunday,
we were sad to see the weekend come to an end, comforting
ourselves with plans for an immediate repeat. But even if
we never get the opportunity to return to that mountain-top
to recreate that special weekend, we'll never forget the bonding
that we shared as writers.