I’m back from Rochester,Vermont, back from four days and three nights at When Words Count retreat, a lovely, restorative, inspiring place for writers, especially emerging writers who are looking to break through with their first book.
When Words Count is a restored inn, with comfortable, book-filled rooms, walls covered in photographs of writers and writing memorabilia, a fireplace –and while we were there — a roaring fire in the Gertrude Stein salon, not to mention a working chef whose delicious meals kept us happily fed the entire time. All of this is enough for any writer, emerging or well-established, and my time at When Words Count suggests that all types of writers do make use of this beautiful spot. Who doesn’t love having all their meals prepared, enjoying appetizers and a glass of wine in front of the fire before dinner, socializing and sharing work with a group of interesting people, all of whom are working on creative projects? Owner Steve Eisner and Writer- in-Residence Marie White Small both are passionate about finding new talent and inviting them to Pitch Week — an opportunity for writers to earn a book deal in an “American Idol” type competition — or otherwise encouraging them to take their work seriously. They listen intently during post-dinner “hash sessions” and offer serious feedback, tremendous gifts to all writers on retreat, whether they are interested in Pitch Week or not. I left my time there uplifted and inspired.
We enjoyed snowy days while we were there, and the Vermont landscape, pre-spring New England skies (Red Sox Home Opener is TOMORROW, vs. the Nats!). Sometimes, just a change of surroundings is enough to jump start the muse. I was working on book edits — and the new setting in addition to the hash session feedback led to some breakthroughs. My time in Vermont was time well-spent on this spring break from school. Today is the transition day back; it was just so delightful to let time unfold slowly, to not be tied to school’s schedule. but at least this week I start teaching The Great Gatsby!