1. Don’t call it a writer’s “retreat.” It’s a “residency.” “Retreat” implies writers going into the woods to write, drink, and have unprotected intercourse. A “residency” is a period of training for brain surgeons. You are on a “residency.”
2. Cultivate a dietary restriction to get out of communal dinners. Vegan won’t excuse you. Paleo, raw, or gluten-free might. As a last resort, engage in earnest prayer before you eat.
3. During readings, mumble “hmm” at strategic intervals to show the writer your interest. Stare into the middle distance.
4. If you do criticize the work, definitely do not say that it didn’t seem at all like Chick Lit. As Freud taught us, there is no negative in the unconscious. The unconscious of your average writer is 80% fear of writing Chick Lit.
5. Do not fuck the Resident Manager. Fuck somebody else.
6. If someone is writing in the common area, they are trying to be seen to be writing. The proper response when you come across them is a sharp indrawn breath followed by, “Oh, I see that you are working. Sorry.” Exit on tiptoe.
7. Every writer’s residency has a ghost of the Victorian founder roaming the property, still dropping off picnic lunches at cabins and combing the bushes to thwart hanky-panky. Do not claim to have seen the ghost. You’re going to get it all wrong.
8. Wi-Fi is spotty. Drinking is obligatory. Stealing someone’s medical marijuana card will result in immediate dismissal.
9. Spiders in your cabin are an enhancement, not grounds for complaint. The only way you can get a better cabin is to sleep with the Resident Manager. See Rule #5.
10. The endowment the Victorian founder left to establish your writer’s residency was exhausted long ago by unforeseeable expenses like sewer repair and property tax battles with town council. An appeal for donations will appear in your mailbox the day after you arrive home. Give generously. It’s on you to fund your second writer’s residency.