I just got back from a week-long retreat at The Rhode Island Writers Colony, and let me tell you, it was pretty incredible. For those of you who don’t know what a writers colony is, it’s pretty much just a fancy way of saying that there is a place that writers can go to do nothing but write. This particular one was up in Warren Rhode Island, which is best known for being the smallest town in the smallest county in the smallest state. So…small. The house was beautiful, but there was no internet and no TV (intentionally.) I shared the space with Lesley-Ann Brown, and the colony’s founder, Brook Stephenson, and all we did was…well, write. A LOT. And when we weren’t writing we were talking about writing. And in between all that was a lot of coffee and wine.
Oh, and the locals were fantastic. There was Allison, a sculptor/Harvard professor who brought us fresh veggies (below), Angelo, a senior Italian man who walked over to me and asked me what I did for a living because he knew it couldn’t be corporate. He was actually the sweetest man on earth, telling me about how shy he was as a child, and how he spent forty years teaching in downtown, Providence. Now, he relaxes in Warren, and tends to his garden of swiss chard and tomatoes, and of course, chickens. He also has really intense conversations with his grey-haired buddies in the coffee shop about how to work a cell-phone.
Oh, and Brook’s brother lives there, and is probably the only black man in the town, which, in this case, makes him the coolest man in the town. BY FAR. Hanging out with John (that’s his name) was like hanging out with a celebrity. Horns honking, hands waving…the whole nine.
I would encourage EVERY serious writer to participate in a colony at least once a year, if you can. Absolutely transformative, but also productive.
This was an old school drug store that sold these things called, “Coffee Cabinets” which is pretty much a milkshake. The best milkshake EVER. The lady, Lesley-Ann. The guy with the hat, that’s John, aka, the Black Godfather of Warren.