Finding time to write without distractions is a challenge. My children, both young adults, are on their own, so parenting is no longer an issue. The culprits are those dinner plans that creep into an exciting rescue or tender love scene, or the grocery list that competes with my list of revisions. Telephone calls and bills requiring payment derail my search for those perfect phrases. Appointments, laundry, and cats demanding hugs all conspire to thwart the start of a brand-new chapter. What’s a writer to do?
Writing before the rest of the house is up and about usually works—unless I start by checking e-mail or posting "just one excerpt" so I’ll feel like I’ve done some marketing/promo. Another precious block of writing time gone. Combining my periodic hankerings to travel to Ireland with attending a wonderful writing retreat near the West Cork village of Eyeries works even better. I’ve taken refuge at Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat on the remote and beautiful Beara Peninsula several times now. Each time I do, I get more than a month’s worth of writing done in a week, and I’ve found that having no internet access isn’t a bad thing. (Gracious retreat owner Sue Booth-Forbes reports that Anam Cara has gone wireless since my last visit, but I may pretend it hasn’t.)
What can a writing retreat do besides provide reasonably priced relief from mundane chores? That depends on what you want. Whether you’re interested in structured workshops or uninterrupted time to simply sit and think, most offer both. Anam Cara does, though the only structure in which I’m interested is the schedule for Sue’s fabulous meals. Simply leaving my normal environment provides a tremendous boost of creativity, and I know I’ll enjoy wonderful walking paths and vibrant conversations with other retreat residents.
Worried about sitting in that chair all day? Most writing retreats, Anam Cara included, offer fitness equipment, whirlpools, and massage. The Beara Peninsula’s spectacular scenery begs visitors to take a hike, or at least a pleasant walk. No need to recreate the historic march of Donal Cam O'Sullivan Bere (1561–1613), the last leader of the Sullivan clan.
This city girl walked right by a herd of cows (wondering if they’d attack) and happily soaked her shoes on a gorgeous bog dotted with sheep. On my first bog walk, I met a guardian angel border collie who guided me over barely visible paths I never would have found on my own.
I’m off for another working mini-vacation soon. A bus will take me from Shannon Airport to Cork City, where I’ll spend a day raiding my favorite bookstores and finding new music. The shuttle that will take me to Anam Cara will pass dramatic scenery and rustic villages that will bask in Ireland’s summer sunlight well after ten p.m.
And I’ll bask in the quiet.