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:

FRIDAY:

10–11am        Welcome and Self-publishing Panel.

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

Lunch

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)

SATURDAY:

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

10am–noon     Workshops continued.

Lunch

1–4pm             Workshops continued.

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

6–7pm             Open mic – participants

SUNDAY:

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

10–noon          Handmade Books, Philip Hartigan & Judy Sutcliffe

Lunch

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!

Have a Great Summer ~ And Don’t Forget to Write!

IS-1dlujp8qcxrh9I am one day away from a self-imposed writing retreat to our Mt Carroll, IL house (it’s up for sale, by the way, in case you are looking for your own retreat) that will start with a writing weekend with two of my best writing buddies, Gail and Jana. (I just noticed that I have written the word “writing” three times in that sentence. I guess I want to remind myself that this retreat must be about the writing.) Anyway, once my buds have gone, I will need to be my own inspiration for a while. No internet in the house, no television or other distractions. Lots of neighbors close by with whom I enjoy raising a glass now and again, but I will have to use that glass-raising as my reward for a good day’s work.

The semester has just finished, and as always, at the end of it, I remind my students not to give in to the temptation to put the writing off. You know how it is at the end of a school year; the first thing you want to do is sleep (okay, maybe the first thing you want to do is drink, but after that, you really do need to catch up on all the sleep you have missed.) The last thing you want to do is anything that feels remotely like homework. So you save the writing for the next day. And then the next day, and IMAG0339the next. And before you know, the summer has passed and you have–indeed–forgotten to write. (This procrastination action is not limited to students, by the way. Teachers. Parents. Single guys and gals. Anyone who thinks that they will have more time to accomplish what the really want to in the summer when the days are longer and the breezes are warmer can be caught in the trap of “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”)

So want a little nudge? How about a writing getaway for yourself? As it happens, I will be teaching four workshops of various lengths and purpose this summer, and I would love to have you join me.

First: Journal & Sketchbook at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts in beautiful Mineral Point, Wisconsin. June 8 & 9, 2013.

journalSketch

I co-teach this class with visual artist Philip Hartigan, and we gear the class toward writers and artists of all levels. Activities will help you use visual note taking, writing, and expressive mark making to help you record memories, observations, imaginings, stories, and visual narratives. This pairing and interplay of text and image is a time-honored artistic tradition, practiced by writers and artists from Mark Twain to Henri Matisse to Jean-Michel Basquiat, and is useful for all manner of creative expression.

Participants may sign up for either one or both days—for a weekend of writing and drawing and creative practices. New activities will be undertaken each day.

Second: Interlochen College of Creative Arts Writers Retreat in gorgeous and green Interlochen, Michigan. June 17 – 20, 2013.

My fiction workshop for this retreat is already full to capacity, but there is still room in Memoir (Anne-Marie Oomen,) Poetry (James Arthur,) and Writing for Children and Young Adults (Louise Hawes.) main-entrance-sign

Second-and-a-half: Blogging for Artists and Writers. Interlochen, Michigan. June 21, 2013.

The brilliant artist and writer Philip Hartigan will be teaching a one-day workshop on New headshotbuilding and maintaining your own blog.

Third: Journal & Sketchbook: Florence. July 4 – August 2, 2013.

This is a big one, folks. This college-level, study abroad course offered by the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago is also open to interested participants who are not currently Columbia College Chicago students. A month in Italy drawing and writing? Yes please. 75498_221057628035837_387282161_n(Co-taught with Philip Hartigan.)

Fourth: Creating Story: A Fiction Writing Workshop at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts. Mineral Point, Wisconsin. August 10 & 11.

Always wanted to write that short story? Eager to keep at that novel? Know you have a story to tell, but haven’t quite figured out how? Creating Story is for you. Drawing on memory, imagination, and observation in order to create fictional work, this two-day workshop is designed for writers at all levels. Activities will help you develop new work and reconsider work-in-progress, and will assure that you have new pages written by the time you leave the beautiful confines of Shake Rag Alley. Fiction writers of all genres are welcome, as are memoir writers who are eager to explore the fictional possibilities of their life stories.

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So, hey, yeah it is summer. Have a good one. But don’t forget to write.

→My Shake Rag Alley workshops offer discounts to writing group members. Contact me through my templeofair account at gmail if you want details. Interlochen Writers Retreat offers discounts to members of Michigan Writers. And you don’t have to be a resident of Michigan to be a Michigan Writer. Hope to see you this summer. And as always, thanks for reading! -PMc←

A Still Point ~ Lucricia Hall’s View From the Keyboard

One of the best things that happens when you attend the Interlochen College of Creative Arts Writers’ Retreat in Interlochen, Michigan, is that you meet a whole new circle of writers. Sure, there will be some you knew before, or at least have read and admired–Tony Ardizzone, Fleda Brown, Anne-Marie Oomen, Katey Schultz–but I am referring to the others here. Those writers who are in the early stages of their work, some having turned their backs on their creative life in order to raise families, start careers, follow more traditional paths. And those others who didn’t know they had writing in them, but who have discovered through their love of reading and sharing stories that maybe it is time to try this writing thing out themselves. I so enjoy these new (or newish, or returning) writers. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Their desire is great. Their talent is surfacing in ways they might never have imagined.

This past summer I met many of these writers, among them, Lucricia Hall. She and her husband Sam added so much to the retreat (including Sam’s considerable talent as an opera singer–he serenaded us one evening and brought many of us to tears.) They sat side-by-side at each event, faces turned upward, listening keenly, laughing, nodding, taking it all in. And since this retreat escape, Lucricia has made a commitment to her writing life, in spite of her busy other-life of being a mother, a nurse, a contributing partner. And now it brings me great joy to introduce Lucricia Hall to you all. Here she is:

Lucricia: When people ask me what I do, my knee-jerk reaction is to answer I’m a nurse. But what I “do” is write. I am not a published author; I don’t have an agent; I’m not making any money…but I write. I write because the stories whisper to me and I have the privilege of hearing them and bringing cohesion to the various bits. I write for the joy of creating something entirely my own. I share it on my blog in the hopes that people will enjoy my creation. And if they don’t enjoy it then maybe it will make them think, talk or write.

Yep, this is where it happens. One day I will have a space of my own but for now the dining table will do. I work full time so my writing happens in the evenings. I carry my journal with me everywhere because I never know when an idea will present itself. Painful past experience has taught me that I will NOT remember it later. From the journal to the blog. Repeat daily.

Here’s an excerpt from my blog The Still Point.

Didn’t I Already Do This?

I am exhausted! What have I been doing you ask? Training for a marathon? Saving puppies from burning buildings? Making sweet love to my husband?

NO! I am babysitting my niece, Lizzy, age 10 and my nephew, Kael, age 6. Now, my kids are 19 (the twins) and 15. I have not had to wipe a poopy butt, fix a lunch, get a drink of water, or “entertain” my kids in years. I am woefully out of practice!

First of all, you have to have the stamina of an Iron Man athlete to keep up with young kids. I think my stamina is that of a sloth or, on a good day, a koala. I have come to enjoy a life of leisure and it has been completely ripped from me this weekend.

Liz and Kael got here Saturday around noon. I needed a nap by 1:45 but plowed through the fatigue and sleepiness to blow bubbles, color, play soccer, make bracelets, get 7 glasses of water, make dinner and then reheat pizza because “I don’t like this” was sung in chorus, make beds in the living room, play with Legos, play Wii, watch Avatar (the cartoon), announce that it is bedtime, get 3 more glasses of water, make Kael go to the bathroom before laying down a third time, kisses on the head, I love you’s whispered, threats of death if you get up ONE MORE TIME and then the sweet oblivion of sleep!

Sunday: See Above.

Read the rest:
http://thestillpoint-lucriciahall.blogspot.com/2011/08/didnt-i-already-do-this.html

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Lucricia, thanks for finding the time to share your work space with us. Good luck with the blog and the babysitting, and with the writing life juggle. -PMc←

Oh, Interlochen, I Miss You So ~ A Brief Summary of a Writers’ Retreat

How could it possibly have gone by so fast? Interlochen College of Creative Arts Writers’ Retreat of 2011 was four days full of writers reading, talking, writing, eating, imbibing, walking, sharing, sleeping (just a little,) listening, and yes, drawing.

We are back at our house in Mt. Carroll, IL, and are happy for our own bed, our two crazy cats, our full-size refrigerator, our own cooker (as the British, Philip’s people, call it.) What I am missing, though, is so much. Of course, the trees. The beautiful smells of Northern Michigan, the lakes that are small and great. The creative aura that is Interlochen Center for the Arts.

I find myself thinking back to moments and people;

  • Ava and Philip with their heads down over their work on the reduction linocut print for the dedication of the Mallory-Towsley Building.
  • Dinner with Matt and Angela, their delightful children making us laugh and marvel.
  • Walking along Diamond Park Road and into the collection of houses near the lake, amidst the wetlands–a path I ran daily during my residency at Interlochen in 2001. A place that appears in my stories.
  • Meeting, talking with, and hearing the fine, fine work of my fellow faculty: Fleda Brown, Tony Ardizzone, Katey Schultz, and of course, Anne-Marie Oomen. (Oh yeah, and Philip, too.)
  • Annie finding her way in the poetry workshop.
  • Linda showing her chops as a real writer.
  • Jo Anne’s kind face and beautiful drawings, her collections of memories about travels and places important to her.
  • Joan lighting up like one of her own students as she made new discoveries.
  • Lindsey doing what she always does, writing her way toward understanding, and doing it so well.
  • Lynn celebrating her birthday with ballet turns, new drawings, a new section of work-in-progress, and plastic rings and cupcakes. (Oh, and two dead mice!)
  • Viki surprising me deeply and delightfully, despite my having known her for–could it be?–nearly two decades now.
  • Ferdy taking the risk and reading his work off his phone.
  • Theresa, Lindsay, John, Terry, leaving me lost in their worlds after their readings.
  • Lucricia and Sam, such a dear couple, each following their dreams and holding hands on the way.
  • Opera on the lakefront in the dark.
  • And Gail, dear Gail, on the other side of the wall, putting up with Philip’s high jinx and giving comfort and camaraderie just by being there. (And her writing!)
  • John and Meredith making the trek to hear us read and to hang for a while after.
  • Selling and signing books. Felt a little like Sally Field: “You like me! You really like me!”
  • Talking blogs with Kristen, whose own is both beautiful and mouthwatering.
  • Rachel making me feel as though my stories can move even the toughest of customers, and hearing her own affecting novel-in-progress.
  • Sharkie.
  • A hug from Delp, whom I adore.
  • An escape the weekend before the retreat (pre-retreat retreat) with Philip to Empire, watching the great lake roll toward the shore, eating marvelous food and watching junk tv and…well, you get the picture.
  • Dinner with a crowd of excited new friends at the conclusion of the week.
  • And perhaps most of all, dinner before it all started with Anne-Marie and David, two of the world’s best people (no hyperbole here) who are such a joy to be with. Anne-Marie has shown me so much about how to live a writing life of meaning, and David is evidence of how to live the rest of your life, too, with warmth and compassion, with generosity and good deeds. What a couple!
Yes, I’m gushing. And there is likely more to gush about. But for now, that’s what you get. If you don’t believe me, then you should see for yourself. It’s an annual thing.
Sharkita holding court at the dinner table. Everyone likes a big fish story.