Artists of all stripes, but writers especially, need scads of time to enter the silence where art is created. It’s hard to do in the bustle of family life, at work, and surrounded by friends. Visual artists often go on “residencies” but writers are generally pointed in the direction of conferences where you are exhorted to improve, refine, better your craft and hone your path to publication. This is, of course, a good thing–where else can you meet literary heroes and experts in a quick, intense setting? But having been to enough conferences as both participant and presenter, I can tell you that I often return home spent to my very last. There’s a driving energy at the conference scene that, while exhilarating and useful, doesn’t lend itself to restoration and from which I often require a week to recover, rather than hitting the ground ready to dig into my work.
This is why Martha Alderson and I decided that in order to best teach writers we wanted to shift the energy from go-go-go to receive and replenish. The first rule for us was to find a location that restores the body and spirit and facilitates calm, quiet engagement with one’s work. We are both extraordinarily lucky to live within an hour of a spectacular retreat center–the Mount Madonna Center— up and away in the Santa Cruz Mountains. That picture of the lotuses? It was taken there! It’s a place where the deer and the dragonflies come close enough to be photographed; where the deep trees seem to purify the air as you breathe it; where great, tender care has been taken to take care of your essential needs so you can just be.
It’s such a magic place, I took myself there for my birthday in August for the day. All I wanted for my birthday was to be in the majestic beauty and stillness of nature, quiet and content with my writing and my self. Seven hours of journaling, walking, eating delicious vegetarian food and staring out at the panoramic vista prepared me for some busy months to come.
So, a retreat gives as much as it takes. While we will be filling you full of information, and walking you deeply into your story with structure and layers, based on the new book we’re working on, which will change how you write, you will also have plenty of downtime, time to write and reflect and be present in nature, replenish, restore and rest. We feel confident in saying this is a very different kind of writing experience. One in which you will learn and grow, gaining practical skills, and yet come away replenished down to your very core.
We hope you’ll join us for this unique Plot & Scene Retreat in May, 2014.