By Robert Drinkwater
On Saturday, October 5th through October 6th, I had the pleasure of going to the Writers Workshop with Sigma Tau Delta at Camp Kirkold in Readfield, Maine. We left UMF at around 3:00pm on Saturday. When we arrived we got to pick out cabins and help collect firewood. after we collected the firewood, we made our way down to the lake, where there were two benches. A bunch of us, including myself took pictures of the lake, really capturing the beauty of Maine. We sat down on the ground or on one of the benches and did our first writing exercise. For this writing exercise, we had to write about an object near us and describe it in immense detail. Describe how it looks, the texture, what’s around it. Pretend as though this object was the most important thing in our life. We had about fifteen minutes to write about this. When we were done, we continued to walk down the trail where we saw a chimney with nothing else around it. It looked like something out of a horror movie. It really set the mood for spooky season.
Eventually we made it to our next stop for our second writing exercise. For this exercise we had to remain completely silent and write about every sound we hear. After that we made our way to our third and final stop to where there were a few picnic tables and for this exercise we had to write a poem backwards, that had to be twenty lines and we had to use words from a list that was provided. This resulted in an interesting poem to say the least that involved talking coyotes and nosy cicadas.
By the time that we were finished with our writing exercise, Tegan met us at the picnic tables and said that our dinner would be ready soon. We made our way over back to the campsite and gathered around the campfire as the sun began to set. We cooked rice and beans. Having it after a long day of hiking made the food all the more delicious.
After we all finished our meals we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores . Afterwards we huddled around the fire to keep ourselves warm in this Autumn weather. The next morning we all woke up fairly early. Three of members of our group had to leave because they were not feeling too good, but our remaining group went down to the dining hall where Tegan made us pancakes. Afterwards we did our next writing exercise, which was a scavenger hunt. For this we we given a clue to a hidden writing prompt that would be somewhere around the area. Each prompt had something to do with character creation. For instance, for our first prompt we had to list the physical attributes of our character. For another prompt we had to write a monologue that gave a bit of a backstory to our character. By the end of this exercise, we knew our characters backstory, motivations, fears, flaws, and weaknesses. This is the type of exercise that I would recommend to anyone who really wants to get to know their characters. With each writing exercise, all of our characters became more developed and human. I found myself getting invested in these characters and their stories. We concluded our camping trip after the eighth and final prompt, which was to write about an event that would change our characters nature. These prompts were thought provoking and made me more conscious of the importance of knowing your characters when you are creating a story. This writing retreat was an excellent way to practice writing and experience the great outdoors of Maine.