Writing Retreat: The Rituals

With our beloved writing retreat coming up in just a month, Jayne and I are already plotting what we’re going to eat, do, and of course, write, while we’re there. Because we love these trips so much, we’ve quietly developed a whole series of rituals that make the experience that much more special. Here’s a look at some of our favorite Cottage Week traditions.

The Ever-Growing Playlist

Jayne has already mentioned our enormous playlist, but here’s the gist. It started from the playlist of songs we always play at our favorite dive bar’s jukebox. And then it grew. With each trip, we added more and more songs that simply had to go on there. ’80s songs, hard rock, metal, electronica, Italian rap/pop (ahem, those last two are my influence). Each song appears on one of the many, many mixed CDs Jayne and I have made for each other, from the Music to Rage By CD Jayne gave me, to the Everything is Happy disc I made her. This playlist isn’t just an mix of our tastes in music, it’s a history of our friendship, from the earliest music we introduced each other to, all the way to now–hitting all the right notes along the way.

Breakfast at Joe’s

Before we leave our beloved little town, we always stop by this place called Joe’s for what may be the heartiest breakfast ever. paso13And it’s not just the food that attracts us to Joe’s. It’s the quirky, small-town diner clientele–from the dandy in the Buddy Holly glasses and the bowtie enjoying his French Toast at the next table over, to the adorable elderly couple who make friends with all the people around them. There’s something so cozy and local about the place, it makes me want to be the guy who jumps into everyone’s conversations with a, “Tell me about it!” and get to swappin’ stories.

Mutually Beneficial Gift Baskets

I loooove gifts. Both getting and receiving. I’m not selfish. Anyway, I came up with the idea that every Cottage Week, we should give each other a small token gift (accompanied by yummy treats to share) that would become emblematic of that trip. Jayne being the crazy skilled gift-giver that she is, takes it upon herself to buy ALL THE BOOKS and totally blow past our agreed-upon spending limit (not that I mind, she spoils me). But either way, each year, as soon as we get there, we have a lot of laughs as we open up gift bags full of books, mugs, tote bags, and all the candy you can possibly imagine (but particularly a tidal wave of Hi-Chews).

Cooking Breakfast

The first time we went on our writing retreat, I woke up one morning to discover Jayne making scrambled eggs in the kitchen, torn Def Leppard t-shirt hanging loosely around her as she flitted busily about the kitchen salting and peppering everything. When she noticed me, she said, “Aw, man. I was hoping to make you breakfast before you got up.” And so, our most beloved tradition was born. Now, whenever one of us wakes up early, we make the other breakfast, and the more elaborate the better (though usually some form of American breakfast food, cause duh–it’s our favorite).

Fancy Reward Dinner

Being cooped up writing takes its tolls. So when, towards the end of our trip, we finish something big or difficult (like writing a whole book, guys), we reward ourselves with a dinner out at one of the nicer restaurants in town. And if you know anything about our culinary adventures, that means ordering all the appetizers and desserts we can handle. It’s a glorious, gluttonous meal through which we giggle, joke, brainstorm, and release all the tension of working on whatever inevitably ambitious projects we’ve been focused on for the past two weeks.

Ritual Sacrifice at the Ominous Tree

When you look into the Ominous Tree, it looks into you.

Oh yeah, that’s where we get all our writing ideas. And all it takes is just a couple of sacrificial lambs. What a bargain!


Do you guys have any rituals in your lady bromances? Tell us in the comments!



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