INTERN is back, misty-eyed and kumbaya-ish, from a weekend spent prancing around in nature with pen and journal in hand at an authentic Writer's Retreat. Everyone in the office is peering up over their desks and asking, "What happened at this Writer's Retreat that spawned such obvious paroxysms of hypomanic delight in you, oh normally sleepy intern?"
To which INTERN answers:
a) the lake was really, really pretty!
b) there was unlimited coffee all day!
c) it was full of pure-hearted, earnest, book-loving, whimsical shirt-wearing 50-somethings who really like to read and write but don't seem to care about ever getting published themselves, and actually seemed to consider it a distraction on the odd occasion when someone asked a publishing-related question to an instructor.
So many people smirk at the mention of W.R's that INTERN went into this, her first one, half-expecting to find a mythical tribe of egotistical ring-wraiths, each one with a precious Fictionalized Memoir in a fancy leather folder under its bony arm. But it wasn't like that at all. By some fluke—actually, INTERN suspects it's because this W.R. had no application process and therefore wasn't prestigious enough to attract any manuscript-bearing ring-wraiths—there were only 24 middle-aged, unpublished writing enthusiasts (and one INTERN), and they drank a lot of wine and devoured the instructors' tidbits, for better or for worse, like Kettle Corn.
Maybe it shouldn't have come as such a revelation, but it was: these are the people who buy books, who buy books for their kids, and buy books for their aging parents, and go to book-signings and readings, and sign up for Author Tracker, and join book clubs, and support their local libraries, and who will probably eventually arrange for books to be given out at their funerals or shot into space with their cremated remains. They have—all of them—get ready for it—REAL JOBS. They work—no, seriously—seriously—REAL JOBS—in part so they can afford to buy books (and oddly pristine raingear). For real.
All of this which is probably obvious to everyone else (and problematic in many ways) blew INTERN's mind.
INTERN has a lot more to say about this Writing Retreat, which had its own bulbous dark side, but felt a great need to say the good stuff first, because it doesn't get said enough: amateur writers are really nice people, and they have the incredible gift of caring more about writing than about getting published. Ten thousands huzzahs. A hundred thousand! A million!
INTERN has a lot more to say about this Writing Retreat, but in the meantime enjoy this fun preview quiz:
During her first W.R, INTERN contracted which of the following:
a) Swine Flu
b) Morbid obesity