This week’s topic: If, suddenly, after all your years of writing, your “ship” finally came in and your titles were receiving wide acclaim (and sales… and INCOME), what would you like to do with that “positioning” to help aspiring writers?
For most authors, the one thing that is in short supply is time. We have daily responsibilities, and sometimes it’s impossible to focus on our stories when there is a mountain of housework to do. My first book took almost eight years to write, mainly because I let so much get in the way. It wasn’t until I had several days in a row of being on my own for several hours at a time that I was able to put all the words into a cohesive story. I went on vacation with my daughters (hubby, of course, stayed home) and since the girls were old enough to go off on their own, I stayed back at our vacation home and wrote. There was no one around to distract me, and I could eat whatever and whenever I wanted. It was the perfect boost to my writing career.
Later on, after I’d joined a couple of local writing groups, both organizations began to organize writing retreats, set at various locations in the state. The first one I attended was in the historic Gerber House, the former home of the family who started the Gerber baby food brand. Again, being away from my family and the daily obligations brought on by home ownership, I got a lot of words written. And being around other authors made for wonderful brainstorming opportunities, as well as chances to share resources. My most recent writing getaway was one I organized at the home pictured above. It’s the model for what I imagine I’d like to purchase if my own writing were to achieve the level of fame and fortune suggested in the prompt.
I can’t imagine earning enough money to do anything I want, but the first thing that comes to mind would be to purchase a nice big house by the lake (in my neck of the woods, “the lake” refers to Lake Michigan) where writers can get away. I suppose it could be used for small workshops with speakers and such, but I’m more interested in providing a nice, peaceful place, away from jobs, children, and even spouses. I’ve attended several retreats, and I know exactly how I’d outfit my retreat house. I would make sure there were comfortable bedrooms, a huge complete kitchen and dining room, beach access for those who want to take a break, and other amenities. And then a large work room. Each participant would get a six-foot table with a nice lamp, several places to plug in various devices, and a comfortable office chair. Of course, there would be internet access. And maybe a bookshelf full of reference books. The place would be open to writers of all genres, but limited to adults. Most retreats I’ve attended went from Thursday through Sunday, sometimes longer.
You might ask how my retreat spot would differ from others already in operation. Here’s my thought: I’d ask writers to give a minimum of ten writing goals when they first arrive. Then, for each goal they meet, I’d give a partial refund on their fee. How’s that for an incentive to buckle down and git ‘er done?
I suppose demand for a writers-only retreat center might be somewhat limited, so I would need to make it amenable to other types of retreats. I’ve attended scrapbook retreats, and a writer friend of mine attends quilting retreats. If I outfit the place as I described, it would work for these other groups. Although I imagine sewers (otherwise known as sewists) would need a bit more table space since they’d be cutting and ironing as well as sewing. Anyway, I’d open it up to other types of groups to help keep the place open.
Of course, the venue itself is only a small part of providing a getaway destination. Assuming I had the money to PURCHASE this place, I would need to spend money to MAINTAIN it. Here’s only a partial list of people I’d need to hire.
- I hate cleaning, so I would need to hire people to clean it after each group left.
- I don’t do yardwork, so I would need to hire people to maintain the grounds.
- I am no good with fixing things, so I would need a handy-person.
- I have no patience for legalese, so I would need a person to handle rental contracts, scheduling, and correspondence.
- I can hardly keep up with my own finances, so I’d need an accountant.
- I love watching decorating shows, but I’d need help to make the place look nice enough that people will want to come – and return.
I would think that between purchasing the home, supplying it the way I have in mind, and maintaining it, I will use up just about any money I could ever hope to earn, especially if writers are motivated to reach all their goals. In the meantime, I’ll be signing up to attend writing getaways at places like Drifting Dunes (as soon as the pandemic threat lifts) so that I can work toward becoming someone whose titles receive “wide acclaim and sales.”