altered fluid writing retreat 2012

For the last five(!) years, my writing group, Altered Fluid, has been going on group retreats to the wilds of New York and Pennsylvania for reflection, relaxation, shared creativity, and and lots of dedicated writing time. We usually have 8-13 writers in one big house for four or five days, which sounds like the perfect setup for a reality TV show. It is, but what happens on the Altered Fluid retreat stays there… we hope.

To my great sorrow, I missed last year’s outing due to Major Life Events, but I was able to make it this weekend, and it was all the more welcome because I don’t get to see these guys all that often anymore, except through the always unreliable magic of Skype and Google Hangout.

It was a great way to celebrate finishing revisions on Quantum Coin last week, but the reward for writing is more writing. I mostly focused on catching up on interview requests, many of which will appear in the coming weeks on an internet near you. Also e-mails, and website updates, and lots of other things. The manuscript for my next book went untouched, but that wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Also, I finally read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and I’m still recovering. It’s terrific, but emotionally exhausting. Fiction rarely elicits such sustained sadness in me, and a book that can affect readers so deeply is a true gift. The unexpected benefit of waiting until after I was done with revisions to read it is that I can’t second guess everything in my own book. I write very different books, so far, but amazing writing does make me more self-conscious about my own.

Anyway, some images from the retreat:

As tradition dictates on our retreats, there was snow. A lot of it.

But we didn’t get trapped this time around, as warmer weather made the snow vanish like some wonderful dream. I have never felt more like I was on Smallville than I did walking toward this barn. If I had heat vision and didn’t want to lose our deposit, I would have burned a giant S into the side.

There were chickens at the barn. We were promised eggs. A lie.

There were also chickens inside the house. Everywhere. We spent a lot of time in this kitchen.

The decor was terrific. Except for this creepy Howdy Doody painting that watches you in one of the bathrooms. His smile! It haunts me still.

Even when you’re writing your work of staggering genius, hygiene is important. This is one of the coolest showers I have ever seen.

This was the shower in my bathroom. Doesn’t it remind you of the Kryptonian chamber in the Fortress of Solitude that robs Superman of his powers in Superman II? Doesn’t it? It’s just me, isn’t it? Okay.

We found these outside. Inspired by Wall*E? Or did someone just leave their boots outside for a really long time?

I emerged from the house after a few days and went on a walk. Here I’m thinking, “What’s that bright thing in the sky?”

As I head back to my day job today, I already miss my friends and am looking forward to next year’s retreat. Do you go on writing retreats? Do you find them productive?

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7 Responses to “altered fluid writing retreat 2012”


  • Great seeing you this weekend, Eugene!

    Yeah, that was one creepy painting in the bathroom. Makes you wonder at the kind of person who decided to put it, you know, right where people are at their most vulnerable. ;)

    • I just kept thinking, did they put that picture in here as a joke? Like, “Howdy, doody.” Ah, toilet humor.

      I had a great time hanging out with you! Fortunately I’ll be in NYC a fair bit in the coming months, so we should have other opportunities to catch up soon.

      Let me know when your photos are up! I wanted to include that cool one you took from outside.

  • Thanks for the recap and the photos. Sorry to miss this year, as I could use some serious alone time with my novel edit. Maybe next year.

    • The punning was significantly underrepresented without you. Actually, I’m not sure I made a single one, which has to be some kind of record.

  • My NY-group has been talking about doing a retreat for years, but it’s never happened. Now that we’re starting to disperse across the continent, though, it may be the only way we can see each other! So one day I may need to get details from you about this farmhouse you rented… =)

    • Alaya generally does all the work of research, renting, and coordinating money from all of us, for which she is fabulously rewarded in good karma and the best bedroom in the house. I think we’ve been in a different house every year, but I’m sure I can get you some pointers on organizing your own writing getaway.

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