A Typical Day on our Writing Retreat
We wake to the smell of tropical vegetation and the screech of parrots. The world is glistening as we make our way through the trees and down to the poolside restaurant to greet the group. There are fresh fruit smoothies, slices of papaya, ice cream fruit, tortillas, rice, beans, pancakes, eggs and toast. The eggs are brought in by a local family and the crusty bread is made on site. The ‘ice cream fruit’ was picked just moments ago.
After a group breakfast, we agree to meet on the outdoor veranda in half an hour for our morning writing workshop. Two of us spend that time climbing to the lookout tower where we gaze down on the tops of the rainforest as a light mist rises.
Armed with fresh Costa Rican coffee, laptops and notepads, we meet in the comfy chairs on a veranda that looks down on the pool and tropical gardens. Today we’re exploring ‘Firsts’ – first sentences, paragraphs and chapters, relating to novels and short stories. We begin with a ‘freewrite’ prompt, each of us writing silently for ten minutes while toucans land awkwardly in the palm trees beside us, and watch. Next, we dissect and discuss famous first lines of novels, and use them to write our own first paragraphs. These we discuss, amidst much laughter, before spending an extended period of writing time on the opening page of a short story, which we also have a chance to share. In the ‘technique’ part of the morning we explore the many factors a first chapter (or scene) must address, and we discuss ways to plunge into a story, rather than meandering towards it. Working from the same plot outline, each of us chooses a different place to enter the story, and writes. The morning ends with an opportunity for anyone who wishes to, to share work in progress – this morning we hear a segment from a novel and a scene from a play. The group offers encouragement and suggestions.
Lunch! There are several options available at the open air restaurant, including soups, ceviche, salads, sandwiches, nachos and a plantain platter. Over lunch, our discussions are inspired by the morning workshop.
Everyone has a different goal from a writing retreat and this afternoon, as with all afternoons, we please ourselves. Several people head back to their cottages for private writing time on verandas where hummingbirds are frequent visitors. Others head out on a short walking trail through the rainforest, returning with stories of the birds and animals they have seen. One couple has arranged for a zip-lining adventure. Others have booked a chocolate-making workshops here at the retreat. Several people have booked massages for later in the afternoon.
Dinner! Most nights, we’ve eaten at the open air restaurant, but tonight a group of us order a taxi for the short drive into La Fortuna, where we wander through the tourist shops, and eat in a pleasant restaurant on the main strip. We discuss what we hope to read at our celebration meal at the end of the week, and share writing projects for the next few months. We return by nine, enjoying drinks in the restaurant before parting for bed. Days begin early, here in the rainforest!
Space still remains on the fully-escorted Costa Rica Retreat in February 2017, but registrations must close soon. For more information: http://www.centauriartsacademy.com/writing-classes-for-adults/centauri-arts-2017-costa-rica-pack.pdf