Taking the ferry home from the Orcas Island LitFest last weekend, I could not get to my notebook fast enough. Twenty hours of writer-panels (I wasn’t able to attend the full weekend) had left my brain so full of ideas and challenges for my own writing that I could hardly speak to anyone. Now, a week’s worth of hard writing work later (journaling, deep character background, pitch practice, scene revision, and everything in between), I am so grateful for the chance to have attended.
And I want to remind my fellow writers of what a self-gift it is to stop, drop and enroll in SOMETHING every now and then, just to realign the wheels (and unmix the metaphors). Literary festivals are great for this. Writing conferences, even better.
But best of all…if you can afford it…is a Writeaway. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you why you can afford it.
First of all, what is a Writeaway? It’s a Writing Getaway–the brainchild of my friends and fellow writers, Mimi Herman and John Yewell. In the words of their website, “We provide writing instruction, fabulous food and company in beautiful places, and a safe place for you to take a writing vacation with your muse, and maybe a good friend.”
Yes, you read that right: Writing instruction. Fabulous food. Beautiful location. Support, personalized critique, a new writing community. Time to work…and do all those things my own brain needed to do after only 20 hours at a LitFest.
In case you need some creds: Mimi & John are better than good writers; they are passionate teachers of writing. (Big difference, right?) Mimi is the 2017 North Carolina Piedmont Laureate and a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist. Since 1990, she has engaged over 25,000 students with her warm and insightful teaching. A Warren Wilson MFA alum, her writing has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, The Hollins Critic and other journals.John is a writer and editor with an MFA in fiction from San Francisco State University and twenty years of experience in journalism.
The shiniest, most awe-inspiring Writeaways of Mimi and John are held in castles in France and Italy, like these:
But they also offer domestic Writeaways in North Carolina, where they live.
Don’t live in North Carolina or feel like flying there? Mimi & John also offer the best choice of all (in my opinion): a Build-your-own Writeaway.
“Have you ever dreamed of getting away to your favorite place to write – with friends and family, your writing group, your book club, high school pals, or colleagues from your creative writing program? Choose your own adventure and we’ll arrange housing, workshops, conferences, and fabulous food and drink for you and four or more of your favorite people. Let us know a little about yourself, and we’ll start planning.”
I can kind of, SORT of, imagine what it might be like to read the above and NOT think: HEAVEN! Yeah, I suppose some writers are the solitary type–and bless them.
But if your Muse comes alive with a little stimulation BEFORE the necessary writerly solitude…oh, my. Why wouldn’t you consider a Build-your-own Writeaway?
Because of the cost, you say. Of COURSE there’s a cost. But Mimi & John are so passionate about what they do, they’re willing to work with writers to keep the budget as modest as possible. No castles. No fancy digs. Homemade meals. Whatever it takes to get you there. The time, expertise and inspiration is what you’d be paying for. If you’ve ever gone to a writing conference and come away thinking, “Well, about half of the workshops were worthwhile,” the Writeaway is the perfect answer, because it’s all tailored to YOU.
So I encourage you to check out this Writeaway Link for yourself. (And just in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not being paid to advertise. I’m just a big Mimi & John fan.)
If you do end up doing yourself the favor of signing up, though–please drop my name! We’ll all be thrilled.