2023-02-07: retreats

i say i'm a writer, and that's technically correct. it's not my job, but i'm established. or at least published. various lit mags. a chapbook. i'm working towards a collection of poems, but i'm not there yet.

one thing i've struggled with, badly, is the sort of traditional activities a lot of writers work within: grants (don't do 'em, i have a good job, other people need that money), readings (i go to some, but not enough; that's on me), and the big one, retreats.

i changed jobs last year, and unfortunately one of the side-effects of that is that i now have significantly less PTO than before. you could say i'm mid-career: more than fifteen years in, i had four weeks at my last place, plus five personal days. i needed it. it was stressful. but that was my number, and i always used it.

now having started a new position, and working within an environment that doesn't allow negotiation of things like PTO when joining, i find myself in the weird space of starting to want to do things like retreats, but having trouble justifying using the time off. every day i burn on something like that is a day not spent with my partner. i have seven fewer days. that feels like a lot.

i've made up for this by being pretty diligent about writing. i'm careful to carve out time, whether for this site or for my literary works or for other projects. a little time here and there and things emerge. but some part of me wants that jolt of writing somewhere else, the unfamiliar setting and people maybe feeding into the creative work in its own way.

i wouldn't know. i've never really done this.

i only applied for a retreat, once. when i was a teenager, i sent in a selection of poems and tried for the provincial writing guild's youth camp. i was rejected. and i don't mind saying that that takes the wind out of you. when you're fifteen? oof. no is bad enough as an adult. how about when you're a kid and just trying to get a grip on technique and tone? being told, when you're just starting, that you're not as good as everyone else?

no hard feelings, of course. any success in spite of that.

but there it is. even if i'm just grousing to the void, i'd like to do a writing retreat one day, something non-traditional. maybe i'll just take four or five days, hole up at a tumbledown lakeside hotel with an empty notebook, and stay till it's full. long walks. intermittent internet. listen to the laughter at night.