One of the highlights of my year is this annual retreat I have every fall with a group of children’s book author friends. It’s hard to believe, but this was our NINTH year! We always meet at a beautiful retreat center (run by nuns) in Hiawatha, Iowa…it’s always a wonderful weekend. Friday night is the “ritual telling,” which is when we catch up on each other’s lives during the last year. Saturday is our “work day.” We spend half an hour on each person…talking about manuscripts (if we’ve chosen to send one to the group this year), brainstorming trouble spots in our current projects, or talking about whatever issue we want to talk about during our time. Saturday night we usually walk the labyrinth, exercise, gab, laugh, eat…oh yeah, bringing snacks is a big part of our retreat, too…because the nuns only feed us three meals a day, and you burn a lot of calories working as hard as we work (and laughing as hard as we laugh). Sunday morning brings more gabbing and more laughter. Honestly, the weekend is always over way too soon.
I just hope we don’t get kicked out of our facility. There was the “man incident” a couple years ago, where we got the nuns out of bed at 10:00 or so because we were convinced this strange man had locked himself into one of the rooms and was going to murder us in our sleep (it turned out a man HAD been staying there…a priest who was retreating to work on his sermons…but he wasn’t there when we were…though he did stop by to pick up some papers while we were there, poor man).
This year…hmm, how do I put this?…let’s just say one of our members has a day job at Planned Parenthood that involves talking to teens about sex, and she uh, shared some of her adventures with us. So the poor people downstairs probably heard some conversation (not to mention a whole lot of laughter) that made them think we were…uh…something other than children’s book authors.
A lot of us only see each other once a year…one comes all the way from Washington, D.C….so we’re always so happy to be together…plus we’re pumped up on sugar…we try and be good, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. I just hope our reservation for next year doesn’t mysteriously go missing…we talked this year about trying to meet at someone’s home during the day and stay in hotels…but it just wouldn’t be the same. Prairiewoods is “our place.” We’re just going to have to learn to be good!