TWO RESIDENTIAL RETREAT OPEN IN IOWA (United States)
AND IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
and welcome to Suzan Erem, on-site mentor, for opening a new retreat in
West Branch, Iowa.
Draco Hill Writer's Retreat is nestled into a river valley on 80
acres of timber and prairie; it is located 25 minutes from the famed
Iowa Writers Workshop and Summer Writing Program. Space is available
from September through March. On-site mentor, Suzan Erem is a creative
nonfiction writer, poet, journalist and author/co-author of several
professionally-published books including her early memoir, Labor Pains: Inside America's New
Union Movement, winner of the Great Chicago Stories Contest, and
the trade book Do I Want to be a
Mom? A Woman's Guide to the Decision of a Lifetime.
A Journalism and English graduate of the University of Iowa,
Suzan has worked as the communications director of a major Chicago
nonprofit, the managing editor and publisher of a monthly news magazine
and as a freelance writer for unions and nonprofits.
more information, please contact Suzan Erem at email@example.com or The Writers’ Retreat at West
We are proud to announce the
opening of a first retreat in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
and delighted to welcome Kahleen T Hegedus-Beeksma, on-site mentor.
Writers’ Retreat in Cabarete is a little piece
of beach paradise, where you can really relax and focus on your writing.
Casa Larimar is a spacious two bedroom, (1
king; 2 queens) two bathroom condominium unit within the prestigious
services are provided by email through Splash Literary Services by
Kathleen and Jamie.
Kathleen has an MA in literature and a passion for creative fiction. She
loves to get down to the Dominican Republic whenever possible to spend time
writing or just beach walking. She works primarily on manuscript
evaluations, including the writing retreat page evaluations.
Jamie completed an honors BA in English and visual arts before going on
to attain a B.Ed. She has taught English, art, and ESL (at home and
overseas) and she brings the heart of an
educator to her work as an editor. She is also a free-lance
information, please contact Kahleen T Hegedus-Beeksma via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or The Writers’ Retreat in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
LET YOUR WRITING TAKE
FLIGHT IN IOWA
By Suzan Erem
When I was a teenager, I would lie on my bed in
the dark and imagine I could fly. I’d slowly lift off and imagine I was
floating just above the ground. I could see the bare patches in the grass,
the front porch gutters, the massive trunk through
the thick green leaves of the sugar maple in our front yard. Then I would
lift higher until I could see the roof of the house, the gravel lane to the
main road, our neighbor’s place about a mile away. Finally, I would take
off sailing across the landscape feeling the wind on my skin, my feet
behind me lifted by air and velocity, my tears streaming back into my hair.
Then I would get up, sit at my desk, and write. It
was the first meditating I ever did, and I didn’t even know there was a
word for it.
Today, I’m still inspired by flight—the bald
eagles and red-tailed hawks swooping across the river and buzzing our house
take my breath away. The woodpeckers, nuthatches, blue jays, and snow
buntings at the feeder can transfix me for … well … too long! Even our
humorous guinea fowl flying up into the trees are fodder for thought. It’s
a way of getting outside my body and even my head for a while; a great
place to be if I want to write, so long as I stay focused and write.
Our place is called Draco Hill because our family
totem is dragons, and our favorite movie is DragonHeart, voiced by Sean Connery, the
sexiest dragon alive! But we also believe this eighty acres of timber,
prairie, and limestone on the Cedar River is just magical enough to make
you think there’s a dragon out there somewhere. If that doesn’t get the
juices flowing, what will?
We’re now inviting writers to come visit us from
September to March so they can enjoy the same inspiration. Iowa is fertile
ground for many things, among them authors and poets. The nearby University
of Iowa Writers Workshop, Summer Writing Program, and the International
Writing Program are testaments to that. Plus, everything we grow at Draco
Hill, where we’ve reclaimed the earth for the worms, is chemical-free. If
you join us for supper, included in your stay, you’ll likely be eating
something grown in our garden or raised the old-fashioned way by one of our
Draco Hill is home to writers who get it. Enjoy
your own private space for as much or as little time as you want while
you’re here. You are with people who appreciate the beauty around us just
as much as we appreciate the perfect word, a concise sentence that rings
clear and true, and that moment when you look up from your writing and five
hours have gone by that felt like five minutes.
To reserve your private suite this fall at Draco Hill Writer's Retreat, call (319) 643-4055 or e-mail Suzan Erem at email@example.com
WALKING AND WRITING
By Louise Page
“Should I stay or should I go?” asks the song, and
sometimes it’s like that with writing. Should you stick at your desk or are
there other ways of dealing with knotty conundrums of form and style or
dialogue and plot. Time and again, I have watched writers’ on retreat
attack their writing in an attempt to move on. What do I mean by attack?
Going back over and over, tinkering not changing,
and thinking late nights and later mornings will help reengage their
creativity. I understand that the cost of going on a retreat in both
financial and emotional returns means that writers think they must spend
every moment with their laptops. But good writing comes from engaging with
the world, from making small truths universal, and being prepared to trust
your instinct as a writer even when it means deleting hours of work.
Walking can be one of the most liberating ways of
unlocking ideas. The scientist, Charles Darwin, had a special walking path
constructed so he could free himself from his desk and papers and let his
thoughts run free.
Working with Human and Health Science students on
reflective practice assignments, I walk them around the university campus.
We explore how a building looks differently depending on our perspective and
if we are approaching or leaving it. Many students have never tried to
break their thinking pattern from academic literary tradition and find it
difficult to imagine that looking, touching, and smelling can help with
Panicked about getting this article written on a
gloriously sunny day in Ireland, my head said, “Write,” and my heart said,
“Walk.” The beach beckoned, sea smooth, and
untouched. My play, Rogue Herries, has just opened at The Theatre by the Lake
in England, so I have had four weeks of intense rehearsal and rewriting.
Beach it had to be. As I started walking, I was making all sorts of
accommodations for how I would write this piece: I would stay up late, I
would miss helping someone with their bees, and I wouldn’t put a second
coat of red paint on a door. Then I saw Arctic terns diving for fish and
found a perfect egg-shaped piece of rolled-rock crystal. I never used to
understand why I always had my best ideas at the farthest point of my walk.
But, of course, that’s where I turn around. Something resolves itself, and
I head back to my desk. The distance doesn’t matter. This morning it was
about a mile, sometimes it has been six miles.
We find more and more people are coming to Heron’s
Reach for a combination of walking and writing. Though we have house hours
so people can work uninterrupted, I often find myself walking with students
during their mentoring time. There is no barrier of a piece of paper or a
laptop screen between us. I always feel that doing things in your head is
the ultimate ecological process. No electricity, no paper, ideas come and
they go; the important ones stay behind like egg-shaped rock crystal on the
And there’s a double reason for bringing your
walking boots on retreat this autumn. Travel writer, Jill Gleeson of www.gopinkboots.com will be
visiting in early October for a retreat about creative nonfiction based on
the fabulous Dingle Food Festival. Her boots are pink and mine are red.
However, we are hoping to influence your writing style, not your footwear.
If you can’t wait for that, we have a couple of places remaining at the end
of June on our Knuckle Down Retreat aimed at helping writers complete and
revise their work. We have the interest of a small press fiction publisher
who has requested to see anything that might be suitable for his press.
Louise Page, Heron’s Reach, Dingle, Kerry,
NEW POETRY WORKSHOPS IN
VERMONT—SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!
By Tamra J. Higgins
Are you a poet who would like to be a part of a
community where you can share your work, receive (and give) supportive
feedback, and spend a couple of days immersed in discussing poetry?
Or perhaps you are a reader of poetry who is not
sure what it is in this art form that entices you.
Whether you are an experienced poet or new to
the world of poetry, Sundog Poetry Retreat has a workshop for you.
Located on forty-six acres in beautiful
north-central Vermont, SPR offers two-day workshops on particular themes
in poetry. For the fall 2013 session, these include Introduction to
Poetry, Nature Poetry, and Narrative Poetry. During each workshop, you
will discuss poetic elements, share your work, give and receive feedback
(sharing and feedback are optional for the Introduction to Poetry workshop),
and partake in poetry writing exercises. Delicious catered meals (lunches
and dinners) are sure to keep you energized and are included with the
cost of the workshop. Time is built into the program to enjoy the
outdoors, whether it is getting some physical exercise or sitting and
reflecting by the pond. You may also partake in an optional public
reading at a fine arts gallery in our quaint Vermont village.
To learn more about Sundog Poetry Retreat, go to
Sundog Poetry Retreat or e-mail Tamra J.
Higgins, owner, Sundog Poetry Retreat at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you in Vermont!
WHO WOULD DO
SOMETHING LIKE THAT!
By Sharon Chinook
Writing characters who are normal enough
to let us identify with them, and startling enough to keep us interested,
is an eternal challenge to fiction and nonfiction writers. In fiction,
our imagination can still abut the limitations
of personal experience, though we strive to imagine the unimaginable. In
describing reality, we encounter people whose actions, beliefs, and
behaviors are incomprehensible. The writer endeavors to create a
character and write a story that allows us to transcend our personal
experience and understand something more about being a spirit inhabiting
a body limited by time and gravity.
Sharon Chinook has been preoccupied on a daily basis with these
aspects of the human experience during the last thirty years in her role
as Sharon Melnick MD, a general psychiatrist.
She has shared extreme experiences with multiple people, encountered both
the terminal and the transformed human psyche. As part of Chinook
Retreats, Sharon offers a free-hour discussion after reading fifteen
pages of manuscript focused specifically to character. She is skilled at
interviewing the writer about the character, or even interviewing the
character itself. She has written about ten thousand, five-page novellas
summarizing a person’s life to the moment where he or she seek her help. She has walked the next chapter of many
people’s lives. Sharon profoundly understands the interplay of
temperament, development, relationships, and circumstances to an
individual’s story. Additional hours are $100 as are an additional ten
pages read and returned with commentary and questions when the person is
staying at Chinook Retreats.
The Guest House at Chinook Retreats is especially well suited for
workgroups of three or four seeking collaborative work, or supporting one
another in individual pursuits. Chinook Retreats offers true quiet, far
vision, star bright night skies, beautiful and comfortable
accommodations. Two miles off the highway, held snug against woods behind
and open to a hundred-mile vista in the front, The Guest House and Studio
contain and promote original work, and the grounds and adjacent wild
lands offer ample ambling. The nearby towns include Klamath Falls,
Oregon, twenty minutes north; Mt. Shasta City, California, sixty minutes
south; and Ashland, Oregon, ninety minutes across the Cascades.
Sharon often tells patients that suffering is part of the human
experience. If you are born into a body, you will suffer. If you have
relationships, you will suffer. How we carry that suffering, how we
recover from suffering defines much of our personality. It contributes to
the way in which we each write our own story, make our own luck, and live
our deepest truth. Sharon looks for the space between the person who
walks around living our life in the world and our truest self—our soul.
How much distance separates these aspects of each one of us? How
discordant or congruent are these distinct experiences of “me,” of the
Even if you are not able to visit and write at Chinook Retreats,
Sharon is available for consultation by phone, Skype, and the Internet,
be they questions about the writer or the written word. Please feel
welcome to contact Sharon at email@example.com and visit Chinook
CONFERENCE, RETREAT? WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
By Melanie Bishop
When writers seek professional development, aside
from taking classes or receiving an MFA, they have three options: apply for
a residency, attend a conference, or schedule a retreat. While there are
some similarities between residencies and retreats, neither term should
ever be confused with conferences.
Residencies exist all over the world, and they are
often referred to as writers or artist colonies. They are prestigious and
competitive. The most well known of these colonies are Yaddo
(Saratoga Springs, New York) and MacDowell (Peterborough, New Hampshire),
founded in 1900 and 1907, respectively. More recent and equally prestigious
residencies include Ucross (Ucross,
Wyoming) and Hedgebrook (Whidbey Island,
Washington), founded in 1981 and 1988. While the colonies have unique
characteristics, (Hedgebrook, for instance, is
only for women, and some colonies are only for residents of that state),
they are more alike than they are different. Residencies can be anywhere
from two weeks to three months. Participants are housed, fed, and left
alone to work.
Conferences are, to me, the opposite of
residencies and retreats. They are typically held in a big hotel or on a
college campus, usually lasting two to four days, though the two oldest
conferences in the United States, Breadloaf in
Vermont and Sewanee Writers’ Conference in Tennessee, last for ten days
each every summer. You usually pay to attend a conference, and there’s a
busy, steady slate of sessions to attend from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with
craft lectures, advice from editors and agents, readings from the faculty,
or a critique of your work in a workshop. Conferences involve intense
immersion into the profession of writing with opportunities to network. You
tend to leave a conference, whether it’s a two-day or a ten-day, pumped up
about the literary world and renewed in your enthusiasm for being part of
that world. But you also leave a little exhausted.
A year ago, I attended a two-day retreat that
should have been billed as a conference. I’d been drawn to this retreat
partly because it focused on young adult literature, which I was attempting
for the first time, and partly because of the location—gorgeous pictures of
Lake Tahoe on the website lured me. From Friday night’s dinner until Sunday’s
lunch, we did not see the outside of this enormous resort hotel. Even going
from one’s room to the meals, lectures, and critique sessions, was like
traveling through a mall or casino. You never saw the outdoors. You never
saw the lovely lake. And while they did schedule an hour here and an hour
there to write, all I could do during those rare unscheduled hours was
collapse on my bed and let my brain go numb. It was a rushed, harried,
packed with content, energetic thing—not a bad thing, necessarily, but certainly not a retreat.
Anyone can go on a writing retreat, from a total
beginner to a published writer. You can tap into a retreat that already
exists, or design one of your own—privately or with a writer friend. A
retreat can take place at a remote location or a tourist destination like Santorini, Greece, or Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
Whether remote and solo or touristy and shared, a retreat’s purpose is to
get away from the trappings, schedules, and responsibilities of daily life.
The point is not necessarily to get some huge amount of pages written, or
to attend lectures and collect business cards of editors and agents; the
point is to prioritize and pamper your writer-self, recharge the senses
during slow walks through a new landscape, find your own rhythm, and follow
whims where they lead. After a retreat, you feel rejuvenated. You head home
renewed, rested, inspired, and deeply satisfied that you also produced some
new work. A retreat will cost you something, but will be worth every dollar
Melanie Bishop will be leading a retreat May 19
through May 23, 2013. Write & Play in Carmel-by-the-Sea,
You can reach Melanie Bishop via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit The Writers’ Retreat at The Vagabond’s House
The Writers' Retreat
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