What I learned--
1) Relax & Settle Down-- The first day for me is used for settling in. I need to get comfortable with my room and surroundings. A lot of walking on day one just to connect with the earth and the new world around me.
2) Plan ahead on what you want to work on, but feel free to change those plans-- I felt I'd be generating a lot more new work than I did, but I realized my days were spent revising or organizing manuscript. While I didn't get a lot of new work (though I do have some new poems and quite a few "From the Emily Dickinson Room" writings), I do have a new chapbook to submit from older poems that I've been wanting to group together, but have just put off.
3) Enjoy friendships. -- You can always have alone time, but rarely do we travel as a team. Instead of feeling guilty for quitting at 5 p.m. instead of 6, I appreciated meeting up an hour early with friends or our long dinners together at night (which is usually my best writing time). I feel much more connected and appreciative of these women writers and that the trip has brought us all closer as a group.
4) Take long morning walks as a group. --This works well on a beach because you can break into smaller groups (it wouldn't work as well on a sidewalk where someone would be falling into traffic). This morning time was a great opening to the day where we discussed our projects, our writing lives, our goals and hopes.
5) Naps. -- I know, I'm napping my writing time away. But what I found was in a new place I woke earlier than normal, so these naps made it possible for me to make it through our dinners. Plus, as the mother of a younger daughter, naps were truly a luxury for me. Falling asleep in the Emily Dickinson room at 2 p.m. was a gift I rarely (if ever) get at home. I took advantage of those 40 minutes meditation periods daily.
6) Bring less books-- I probably didn't need 1/2 my library, but I brought it. I ended up having a few good books, that I kept going back to. Susan Howe's MY EMILY DICKINSON was my favorite of the bunch I brought.
7) Don't censor yourself. Allow yourself to write anything, even it if feels wrong, terrible, etc. Edit it later. It's always interesting to see what new places bring out in you.
8) Remember, you will want to stay one more night. We stayed 3 nights and next year, will stay 4. We all agreed it wasn't enough time. (Is it ever enough time?) Remember your family at home will be (and are) fine without you. No worries. No guilt. Just a room of your own to write. And enjoy it, it goes by fast!
The Welcoming Sign! We're here!
Views from my room
Top Row: Ronda Broatch, Jennifer Culkin, Annette Spaulding-Convy, Nancy Canyon, Ann Batchelor Hursey
Nancy Canyon in the Oscar Wilde room
My writing place in the Emily Dickinson room (note: I moved the desk in front of the window, they had it to the left in front of a wall. I think my placement is much better.)
Nancy Canyon & Jennifer Culkin in the Alice Walker Room
Martha Silano (and rose lamp) in the Gertrude Stein room
Self-Portrait with Virginia Woolf
Emily Dickinson sign on my room's door
Sign at the Front Desk
Kelli in the Emily Dickinson room