Janet Miller Photo

Janet Miller’s thoughts on her Writing Retreat

My Writer’s Retreat days at the Haig-Brown House were lovely, peaceful and productive. I saw pine siskins, chickadees and spotted towhees at the suet feeder in the plum tree out the kitchen window and eagles, hawks and one deer out the studio window. I wished to see a black bear on the banks of the wide and swift Campbell River, but none wandered by.

My retreat took place Feb 22 to Mar 7, 2021. I stayed as a B&B guest at the house three nights each week so was able to write day and night. If you have not had the pleasure of a visit to Roderick Haig-Brown’s studio – let me describe it: 3 walls completely covered with his extensive book collection and the 4th wall with the fireplace, windows, and his desk, where I sat.  

I worked on my novel, pulling together the travels and difficulties of a young woman in another time and in another country. Wayne Grady, Haig-Brown Writer-in-Residence 2015-16, was my mentor during my retreat. I submitted my work to him by email and then we met on zoom. As well as editing guidance, he put an important question to me – “What is psychologically wrong with your protagonist?” The answer I unearthed opened up new motivations and driving forces for my main character.

I had submitted my application to the 2021 Winter Writer’s Retreat Program in December 2020. A call for submissions had been put out to writers in the Campbell River and Comox Valley areas. The Campbell River Museum, who administer the Haig-Brown House and its programs, introduced the Writer’s Retreat in response to Covid-19 restrictions. This winter is the first in many years when it was not possible for the museum to host a Haig-Brown Writer-in-Residence.

Being part of the 2021 Winter Writer’s Retreat Program has been a great benefit to my writing life and I am grateful for the opportunity it gave me. I was able to buckle down and concentrate on my writing with only an occasional glance out the studio window in hopes a bear might lumber by.