Five writers (two are out walking on the beach) have taken mugs of coffee and gone to the place — in the house and in their heads — where creation happens. Two overlook the surf from an upstairs window. One looks out another room’s window into the dark, lacy limbs of a coastal pine tree. Two sit in the big living room, laptops on knees, writing in that companionable silence that comes with doing the same thing as someone else and not needing to talk about it.
Orthodox Writers Week at the Beach happens in late June every year, depending on the schedules of the participants. We meet at the Colonyhouse, in Rockaway Beach, Oregon, about midway between Cannon Beach to the north and Tillamook to the south.
The house, a beautiful and quirky log cabin from the 1930s, offers sleeping space for nine, a big stone fireplace, a full kitchen, shelves and shelves of books, and a view of a lake to the east and the ocean on the west.
But it’s what happens in the house that we come back for year after year. Every day from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. are quiet times. Inside the house, we write, read, sleep, paint icons, or whatever we want to do, as long as we don’t disturb the concentration of the others.
In the evenings we gather around a big table for a home-cooked meal, wide-ranging conversation, and wine.
After dinner we adjourn to the living room for readings and the kind of critiques that come from writer friends who fervently want your success.
Retreat participant Bev. Cooke says she loves the sound of the surf and the lack of interruptions.
“I like being away from all my responsibilities so I can clear my brain to create,” said Katherine Hyde, a writer and editor who used this year’s retreat as an opportunity to experiment with YA fantasy.
Donna Farley, author of both fiction and nonfiction books, said she appreciates the company and the fact that “at the beach you feel yourself decompress and have quiet to work.”
The Orthodox Writers Week at the Beach has gone on for about five years now. Even though I organize it, I’m not sure myself how long it’s been. It’s one of those timeless things that seems like both forever and entirely too short.
Father Lawrence Farley, brings up C.S. Lewis’ observation of the slow-maturing of old jokes. Father Lawrence says that one thing he appreciates is the sense of community, “the slow maturing of old jokes, so that each year builds on the last year, so that one has a sense increasingly of family, of community, of coming back to people that you love and genuinely care about.”
Jan Bear writes about using content marketing and new media to market your book. She also blogs in a more leisurely fashion about writing retreats and getaways at Writing-Retreat.com. If you would like to be notified of next year’s Orthodox Writers’ Week at the Beach or other retreats, sign up for the Writing Retreat mailing list.