On Top of It #8 by Lisa Martens

Beginning the Getaway

My grandma owns a small gated community in La Garita, Costa Rica. Since the infancy of my MFA days, I would brush my hair, gaze at the moon, and imagine hosting a writers’ retreat on my family’s property.


Plenty of writers have visited us . . . some of whom had to play poker online to make ends meet, but what writer hasn’t taken on odd jobs? And so I wanted to see if there was any interest. I put out a survey in a writers’ Facebook group on November 30, my birthday. (You can wish me a happy birthday in the comments, thank you).

By December 1, I had 87 respondents. I couldn’t believe it! I had folks emailing me asking when the submission period would be, and if they could receive a scholarship. Some writers are offering to hook me up with connections. All seem passionate and eager to form a community. I was shocked, and it was the shot in the arm I needed.

Too often, we write in isolation. NaNoWriMo reminded me that while writing can be a solitary act, there is a community of us and we can all bond over the Internet and over our collective goals to reach people with my writing. Yep, I’m being sappy.

So it’s going to happen. January 2017, Costa Rica writers’ retreat! And possibly more if this proves successful. Here is a small list of things I have to do:

  1. Hire a lawyer on my $10/hour bookseller salary, just to cover liability issues . . .
  2. Create some kind of submission process and timeline
  3. Find a panel of writers to help comb through submissions
  4. Create an itinerary
  5. Find a reliable driver
  6. Yoga?
  7. Food? Allergies?
  8. We’ll have bonfires. Duh. Have to have bonfires.
  9. Exorcise the ghost who lives on my grandma’s property. Unless he helps with the writing.

But I think I can do it. If you’re interested in coming, serving on a panel, or just plain want to give me advice on how the hell to do this (I’ve never even planned a dinner party), please email me at lisaatnormas@gmail.com. That’s the email address I’m using specifically for planning writers’ retreats in Latin America.

Congratulations to anyone who achieved NaNoWriMo, and please take a few weeks to detox from whatever chemicals you used to get through it.


Lisa Martens

Lisa Martens (Episode 22) currently lives in Harlem. In her past 10 years in New York, she has lived in a garage on Long Island, a living room in Hell’s Kitchen, the architecture building of CCNY, and on the couch of a startup. She grew up in New York, Costa Rica and Texas, and she’s still not sure which of these is home. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from CCNY. Her thesis, What Grows in Heavy Rain, is available on Amazon. Check out her website here. Follow her on Instagram here.