Essence of Self: not just a spa in New Jersey

I chanced to peep a sign reading Essence of Self across the street from the Ringwood, New Jersey Park-n-Ride this past weekend, on my way to my first solo writing retreat. My first thought was “Awesome name!” My second was, “Hey, maybe it’s also significant…”

I decided to go on a weekend writing retreat by myself because: a) I’ve heard from many other writers that they’re super beneficial, b) I wanted to earmark some time to work specifically on the personal writing endeavors I’d lately been neglecting (namely my journal and a story about a guy I met who hands out these funny business cards), and c) I’m smitten with the idea of one day embarking on a longer-term silent meditation retreat, but know I don’t have the cojones yet. Baby steps!

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What I found following my sunny 36-ish hours at the pretty amazing Castle at Skylands Manor (yes! I stayed in a Castle!! somehow, it wasn’t expensive) was:

  • A renewed appreciation for the sound of water bubbling up from a fountain
  • A renewed appreciation for my busy, wonderful life in the city
  • A reminder that bug spray season is here
  • At least 10 new big-ass journal pages had been filled with tightly-spaced handwriting
  • The realization that even if the only book I ever publish is a self-bound volume that describes years of my travels and social life in unnecessary detail, I’ll still be very happy (because that’s apparently the kind of thing I love to read)

All in all, time well spent. Now, back to the incessant ice cream truck jingles and sooty windowsills of my home in Williamsburg!

Fellow scribes (or anyone): Have you gone on a solo creative-type retreat somewhere? What was it like?