“Going on retreats is one of the best methods to pump up your inspiration. When the mind encounters new vistas and new surroundings, it begins processing differently, synthesizing elements together that you have not thought of before. The Aha! factor increases by magnitudes as you finally receive answers to vexing problems about your writing that you may not have been able to generate without this new environment.” from HandHeld
Photo: A group of Nimrod writers–and a visual artist, too.
I was with a group of visual artists this Tuesday and the idea of taking a retreat to Nimrod this upcoming summer was broached. One of the painters said he’d thought of it often but never acted on the possibility.
I started telling him WHY I find going on a retreat to Nimrod essential to my creative life.
When I was a full-time educator Nimrod gave me a time and place apart, separate from the demanding “world” that rightly consumed my energies. From the late 1980s on I’ve written constantly, but as a teacher and administrator I had to “carve out” hours from crowded, exacting professional responsibilities. Now that I’m retired my time truly belongs to me. So why would I need to continue to go on retreat each summer?
The change in environment is magical. Stepping out of your own demands and obligations and yes, connections provides a freedom and openness to creativity. The focus is entirely on what you’re making and thinking. The conversations and interactions center on who you are as a writer/artist, not who you are as a wife or mom or (fill in the blanks) worker. A change in environment, a “room of your own,” feeds the freshness and original thinking. At Nimrod Hall the natural beauty and river option and simplicity provide a backdrop to investigate and explore and recharge. For me as a woman, not thinking about breakfast, lunch, or dinner–planning, preparing, cleaning up after–is a freeing of mental and physical energy, no small piece of the appeal.
I’m married. My husband is an active visual artist. He’s been making and teaching art his entire adult life. So I have a homelife that encourages creativity. Still, the CHANGE is stimulating and invigorating.
I’ve been going to Nimrod over thirty years, when I was a novice writer and my husband, as a painting instructor, invited me to come and read from my work in the evening. While I was there I thought: Writers would benefit from this environment, too. And thus started the writing component of Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program.
My return to Nimrod each summer is the time during my writing life that I’m energized, re-invigorated, lifted, and re-charged.
Cathy Hankla has joined me as writer-in-residence for twenty-seven years. Her artful teaching and expertise are invaluable to the experience. She has fed my writing life in more ways than I can describe. I have an upcoming poetry chapbook, published by Finishing Line Press. Without Cathy’s encouragement I’m not sure I would’ve dared write poems.
This summer there are five weeks for visual artists and one week for writers, July 12-17. If you’ve never taken a retreat, this would be a wonderful place to start.