Last weekend at the time I would normally write a blog post, I was in Silver City, New Mexico, with my co-teacher Dawn Wink, preparing for the final days of an intense and incredible Write & Retreat workshop. We had reached that exhilarating point where everyone was on a creative high, and feeling so good about the writing, our discussions, and the new perspectives we had gain on our work that we didn’t want it the workshop to end.
We had spent three days writing–creating mission statements for our work, crafting scenes from works in progress, and delving into sensory descriptions of place. We had sketched physical maps of the actual or imaginary places where our writing is based, and then written about what we learned from those maps.
We read bits of our writing out loud, talked about them in pairs and as a group (always constructively). We shared our excitement at each now insight, and our fears about the writing as well. We talked about writing and how it fits or doesn’t fit into our lives–our day jobs, our relationships, our families.
We took walks around Silver City and talked about nature and place and history and how they impact our work. We shared meals and listened to readings while eating great food. Dawn and I held individual consultations with each writer to talk about their hopes and dreams and the practicalities of their work.
Dawn and Will talking writing over dessert at Cafe 1zero6.
We lived, breathed and discussed writing, and played with words and rhythm and writing for the better part of four days.
In the doing, the magic I always aim for when working with a group of writers came to pass: we were all–even Dawn and I–transformed by our time together. We understood our writing in new ways, we found new depth and inspiration for our current work, we gained insight in how to integrate our writing into our daily lives.
Like the peach tree in the photo at the top of the post, shot on one of our walks around Silver City, our buds burst into fragrant bloom.
Don’t take my word for it though. Here are some comments from participants:
Thank you for providing such a safe, supportive, and thought-provoking atmosphere at the retreat. The group energy and sense of kinship was very encouraging. The experience inspired me and broadened my vision of what writing can be. –memoir writer Melanie Budd
Loved being there. It inspired me to set aside all the talk of “word count too long, wrong genre for us, etc, etc” and write what my heart and head say. –fiction writer Bonnie Hobbs
Thank you for the wonderful and stimulating retreat. You have a way of bringing out depths of thought which one didn’t know were there! –fiction writer Linda Jacobs
We talk so often as writers about the ways in which writing can transform our lives, and I know I totally depend on my writing practice each day, just to stay sane. But at the workshop I realized it isn’t just the daily practice of crafting and making. It’s like the answers are actually in there! There is something really magic about this. In that strange vortex of inspiration and creation, if we can follow it, and trust our imagination and instinct, the pathway will become clear, the words tell us what to do. … So the real work is about listening and about trust. — poet Will Barnes
We ended on such a high that Dawn and I immediately began planning next year’s workshop, also in Silver City and at the Murray Hotel, February 17 – 20, 2017. The focus will change, but we’ll aim for the same magic: a transformation that gives us all new energy and insight into our writing and our lives. We’d love to have you join us.