Milford writing retreat

I was afforded the unexpected opportunity to go on a writing retreat in mid-May. It was a great success, but I have to start by telling you about the first time I went on this retreat, in 2019, which MIGHT have been the first year this retreat was held.

That week, I wrote 41,000 words. Which is a lot. In fact, it’s enough that they said “we’re now going to use ‘murphy’ as our unit of measurement for this retreat forever,” which I thought they were joking about, except it turns out they’re not. :laughs: So, yeah. Wordcounts at this retreat are measured in “murphys,” although it turns out that they thought I’d written 33k that week so a “murphy,” technically speaking, is 33k. :)

That, however, was evidently not the legendary bit.

The legendary bit is that, because I was driving in with a friend and her van broke down, and we had to wait for the AA(A)* guy, I said, “Well, we might as well get some writing done” and made her take out her laptop and got my laptop out and we got some writing done.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A PERFECTLY NORMAL REASONABLE THING TO DO! I now understand, at least intellectually, that…it was not. :)

Anyway, so that’s kind of the level of expectation I had/have for myself, going into a retreat. Nothing less than ‘legendary.’

Well, mes amis, I did not achive legendary.

Which is to say, I ONLY accomplished a Full Murphy by Retreat Standards: ie, I did about 32,000 words, which is Close Enough, sez I. I ONLY finished one novella and did 80% of another. (Well, 90%. I finished that one yesterday.) And also I edited a friend’s book, which probably should give me some kind of writing credit but is too hard to figure out in terms of wordcount.


The retreat was held at Gladstone’s Library in northern Wales.

It’s a residential library with about 30 bedrooms, 20 of which we were taking up, and a working library that was extremely quiet except for the sounds of people typing frantically. In fact, it was one of the rare occasions were I could really hear myself typing, and could appreciate that it is, in fact, a really weird thing to listen to because I type really fast and when I’m in the middle of something there’s no apparent break between words or thoughts or sentences if you’re listening.

So we got in Saturday evening and had dinner with everybody who was there so far, and to my delight there were a bunch of people I knew, so getting to catch up with them was wonderful. It’s so nice to go into a space and be able to go “! :D” when you see somebody. :)

I think I did sneak off to write my minimum words on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning (Sunday? I think so) we were given a tour of the library, which consists of the History Room:

the Theology Room:

and the Annex and the Room of Wisdom, which I didn’t take pictures of. :) I split my time between working in the History and Theology rooms, and one afternoon in the lounge, where I discovered I could get the staff to bring me a giant hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. ;)

I’m pretty focused at these things, and the first couple of days my goal was to finish KOALAFIED FOR LOVE, so I did about 12k on that to wrap it up by…Monday night? I think so, yeah. And then I fell on my face because I was very tired. :)

I think Tuesday was a really low wordcount day for me as I got started on LION ON LOAN, but I did go down to the town castle and have a walk through the grounds, which are ridiculously lovely:

I actually managed to do some socializing on Tuesday evening, joining in the games night, but then I went and fell on my face with the tiredness because … of the … tiredness… :grimace:

Wednesday was the Day of Revelation about how much work I’d done in the past month, so while I ended up with a good wordcount, it was, you know, revelatory and that was probably good for me. Also my friend made me walk in the castle park more, which was also good for me. :)

Then I spent a lot of Thursday and Friday doing things like this:

“well, SEE, i was GOING to stop at 3k for the day but then I was only 300 words from 23k on the book, AND THEN I WAS ONLY 100 FROM 4K FOR THE DAY and ANYWAY somehow I ended up at 4409 and then, then, see, my friend said it was time to stop for the day but it was ONLY 100 MORE WORDS GUYS I MEAN RIGHT?


Yeah, I couldn’t stand that. Wordcount for the day is 4534, for the retreat is 31,855… shit.

(20 minutes later) WORDCOUNT FOR THE DAY IS 4836, wordcount for the retreat is 32157, wordcount for the book is 24,002 & NOW I’M STOPPING!”

There happened to be another of couple women who were also there for a writing retreat, and on, IDK, Thursday night, probably, I met them as they were chatting with another one of our retreaters, who said to me, “If you were giving newer writers ONE PIECE of advice, what would it be?”

I said, “Butt in chair, do the words, finish things.”

Everybody else he asked, as they drifted in, seemed to say the same thing. :D

Seriously, though, that’s the one piece that you’ve got to do. HOW you do it, that’s between you and your gods, but you gotta actually write.

And really, one of the great things about retreats is that everybody is in fact doing things their own way, with their own metrics, their own expectations, and we’re all surrounded by people who are saying, “How’d it go today?” and congratulations us wildly on whatever we’ve accomplished. It’s really great. Complete departure from the real world and regular responsibilities, just hanging out and writing, editing, revising, whatever. It’s wonderful.

I had lunch with friends a couple days, and guiltily skipped out on a dinner off-site one night, although it then POURED RAIN all evening so I wasn’t so sad about that in the end after all, and overall had a really wonderful time with great people and lots of words.

Oh, and there was also a very nice graveyard and church:

So there, that’s My Retreat, by Catie Murphy. Unless I write up more about it, which I may or may not do. Too tired right now, though. :)

*AA is AAA in American :)

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1 thought on “Milford writing retreat

  1. awesome! Thanks for sharing and grats! on all the words!

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