A Retreat of One’s Own ~ Shake Rag Alley

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Mining for Story

A writer once said something like this: What no spouse of a writer understands is that a writer is working when she is looking out the window. It’s true, isn’t it? Non-writers are hard pressed to understand the pursuit of the perfect word, the best story, the most complicated characters. And so, why not join a community of writers for a few days? Spend time with them in their (your) natural habitat, at the writing desk in front of the page? Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, Wisconsin offers such an opportunity: Mining for Story, a retreat for writers.

Workshops in writing for young people, fiction, and memoir are part of a three-day event featuring panels on self-publishing, blogging, keeping a journal, making books, readings, conversations, lunches, and manuscript consultations. Writers will gather together in the beautiful Mineral Point, a small arts town that looks like an English mining village; we will talk about writing, and most importantly, we will write, write, write!

All of this at a remarkably affordable price: $295!

Shake Rag Alley Writers Retreat Schedule:


10–11am        Welcome and Self-publishing Panel.

11am–noon     The Writer’s Blog, Good Practices. Philip Hartigan


1:30–3pm        Keeping a Writer’s Journal. Patricia Ann McNair & Philip Hartigan

3–4:30pm        Life into Fiction, a brief generative workshop with novelist Shawn Shiflett

4:45–5:45pm   25 minute Manuscript Consultations (Hammond, Rice, McNair – 4:45 & 5:15)

5–6:30pm        Meet and Greet

7–9pm             Workshops: Hammond (writing for young people), Rice (fiction), McNair (memoir)


9–10am           Manuscript Consultations (Shiflett – 9 & 9:30)

10am–noon     Workshops continued.


1–4pm             Workshops continued.

4:30–5:30pm   Writing Instructors panel Q&A

6–7pm             Open mic – participants


9–10am           Manuscript Consultations (Rice, Hammond, McNair, Shiflett – 9:00 & 9:30)

10–noon          Handmade Books, Philip Hartigan & Judy Sutcliffe


1:30–3:30pm  Workshops conclude.


Registrations are going fast; there is one week left to sign up. Please join us. We would love to hear your story!

TBT ~ My Father’s Writing

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Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. – Jean Cocteau

My dad was a writer. Journalism, mostly, but books, too. Career books, how-to-get-a-job books. (It’s in the blood, I guess, this writing thing. My mom, too, was a writer. My grandfather. Three of my brothers.) And here is what I remember: he was a two-finger typist. Fast, hunt and peck. I remember also, sitting at the reception desk of his small personnel firm in the 70s when he paid me some tiny bit of cash to do clerical stuff–phones, filing–and hearing the sound of the typewriter keys as he struck them. The occasional “Aw, shit,” when he hit the wrong key, when he had to rip a missive-in-progress out of the carriage, crumple it up, toss it away.

But mostly, when I think of my father’s writing, I think of his beautiful, messy cursive. My 2017-03-30 10.38.01mother was a bit more of a formalist: even letters, precise dots and crosses above the I’s, over the T’s. Her writing was pretty to look at, easy to read. Dad’s, though. His–to me–was like art.