Monday, January 29, 2018

Writing Retreat

Thank you to my husband for helping me to coordinate a three night writing retreat. It was such productive, creative and restful time!

I joined virtual forces with Stella Fiore and Amy Shearn's group of mother writers organizing their own residencies following, at least loosely, An Artist Residency in Motherhood. Stella and Amy will be discussing the collective experience with input from the participants across the globe on Stella's radio show, Cut + Paste, on Feb. 17. I hope you'll listen in!

View of the Santo Spirito facade from the Airbnb apartment
with the camel stuffed animal that our child sent with me on my writing retreat.
View of the side of Santo Spirito as the sun started to set.
I love those round windows and the light.
I booked an airbnb apartment in Piazza Santo Spirito, one of my favorite piazzas in Florence. After one freezing night without heat and using an emptied dresser as a desk since there was only one window in the four room apartment, I was able to leave early and move into Hotel Cellai in the center of the city. Listening to my gut, instead of staying put, really helped to make the rest of the time as successful as possible. Thank you to my husband for his quick help with that.

View of the Duomo from Hotel Cellai's roof garden.

Our child's camel on the second night in the hotel.
He was very encouraging.
Even with this little set-back, I was able to accomplish more than I'd hoped. I drafted, edited and submitted poems, essays and children's picture books. I also spent some time reviewing what I had, notes that were scattered in documents and email and updating my writing to-do list. I was particularly thrilled the second night to receive an acceptance to an essay submission I sent out the night before (stay tuned!)

I'm still feeling high from this great experience. Even the preparations for the residency were fruitful as I spent more time thinking about what I had drafted (or abandoned) and what I wanted to work on. I am hopeful that I will be able to rely on this "reset" button for a while and stay on path.

If you are thinking about creating your own retreat, you might start with this Residency Kit from An Artist Residency in Motherhood.

I haven't spent a lot of time away from our four-year-old (not a single night away for over eight months) and decided to find a location in our city.  I figured I'd "waste" less time traveling and be nearby just in case. I talked to our child about my leaving and left him a little clue and hidden treat each evening. We video chatted every evening and morning, which was lovely. I will admit some heartbreak when I opened up my toilettries and found his toothbrush. It wasn't easy to leave him, but he was brave and busy both at school and with Dad.

Closeup of the Porcellino in the Mercato Nuovo
which was cast in 1998 by the Ferdinando Marinelli Artistic Foundry. He is the subject
of a children's picture book I am drafting, so we spent some time together.  
The Porcellino at night in the market.
You can see the plaque about Hans Christian Anderson's
children's book about the pig. Read the story here
The original bronze Porcellino cast by Pietro Tacca,
(1634) is in the Bardini Museum.
This was a copy of the Hellenistic marble Porcellino
now in the Uffizi Museum.
My husband and son came to pick me up at the end.
Here's our son writing where I wrote.


Additional thoughts on do-it-yourself writing workshops and retreats that you might enjoy reading:
Guest Blog Post: A Do-It-Yourself Poetry Workshop
Alliance of Artists Communities


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