When is a retreat over?

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I went to a writer's retreat. Actually, I also designed and delivered this retreat, and there was one participant--me.

The retreat grew from having a few open weekends where I have no major responsibilities. I just finished editing and publishing Leaders to Follow, a two-year project that had absorbed my energies and imagination.

The question for me as an author is--what next? I already knew the answer, which is to write (along with my husband Jarda) the second edition of 21st Century Jobs, published in 2009. The world of work has changed significantly in the past decade, so an update is needed.

But I also wanted to think about my long-simmering hippie novel, so far without a title. Not only has it no title, it also lacks a clear mandate, so to speak. I have written short stories around it, as well as quite a few chapters with some key characters and scenes, but the novel has yet to coalesce around one approach.

The retreat offered time and space to let my mind run loose on possibilities for both books. In fact, my mind is still occupied with concepts--too many to use. So my retreat, which was meant to help me focus, has simply opened more vistas to explore. This is a paradox--intellectually intriguing but not practical for actually writing books.

The question is this--when is a retreat over? I suppose it's over when you put a period at the end of all your speculations. So 21st Century Jobs it is, starting now!


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