You get in your car with the mini-tote bag from the Strand stuffed with your wallet, cosmetic everything bag, your poet’s notebook, and lunch—sesame salad, a Granny Smith apple, boiled eggs, and those addictive dark chocolate covered açai berry & pomegranate seed snack packs. You drive 25.7 miles from the heart of your urban life, passing a pasture of feeding cows, fields with odd-shaped and dilapidated houses, and a community store selling produce most likely picked down the road. Aside from the construction on Highway 86 that causes a patient backup of cars needing to continue down the only open lane, there isn’t much excitement in Cedar Grove—a perfect place for a one-day writing retreat.
Eleven writers wind their way down a gravel road on an old tobacco farm to get to the wooden cottage at the far edge of the property. For some, this time—9:30 AM to 4:00 PM on a Saturday—is the only time they have to dedicate to writing. You get three prompts to help you go where the writing takes you. And the writing takes you to the magical and the ordinary: grandfathers in spirit and vulture form, stuffed armadillos, the history that a hammock sees, a collection of boxes under a bed (not to be confused with clutter), your high school journal, your father’s journal, fancy dresses next to men in tuxes, inside the mind of teenager, and Botox.
You leave with a sense of accomplishment and community, and a strong desire to keep the writing going.