Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dreaming about a Writing Retreat?

Dream writing spot
I've always dreamed of teaching at an exotic writing retreat. But for some reason my dream wasn't coming true by just sitting around waiting for someone to offer me free round-trip tickets to teach in Bora Bora.

Then I met writer and charismatic Renaissance man Brian Gruber, who happens to live in one of the most beautiful places I've been: the Thai island of Koh Phangan. Brian's the kind of guy who does crazy shit like travelling to Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua (and other locales) without a predetermined itinerary or lodging, serendipitously finding places to stay and people to interview regarding how they feel about the U.S.'s military interventions in their countries. Such brazen actions led to his most recent book, WAR: The Afterparty.

Turned out he, too, had thoughts of running writing retreats--and after a few chats over meals, we set the wheels in motion.

Retreat Hosts
We decided to call it "Write Your Story in Paradise." Yes, "paradise" is a well-worn trope for tropical places, but in this case, it really fits. Check out this drone footage of the island:

Brian was able to score The Sanctuary, the best resort on the island. Think upscale bohemian with private beach, beautiful and unique accommodations, great food, yoga, meditation, and spa.

Lodging includes beautiful outdoor spaces.
And, incredibly, he was able to talk The Sanctuary into offering people 3 extra free nights if they sign up by June 15. That means, writers can arrive September 6 and just enjoy the resort until the workshops begin September 9-15.

Approaching The Sanctuary.

It was important to both of us that the experience be empowering, even transformational. As highlighted in our title ("Tell Your Story in Paradise"), Toni Morrison's words were our guide:

"If there's a book that you want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

We also wanted novice and experienced writers to be welcome. Fortunately, that's my wheelhouse. For years I've been teaching writing in university classes and workshops to diverse groups with all levels of experience, age, and backgrounds. I developed a program intended to inspire and instruct. Topics include:

* How to Believe in Your Writing
* Writing & the Unconscious
* Read Like a Writer
* Best Openings & Characterization
* Setting & Point of View
* Scene & Summary
* How to Keep Going

We're also offering 1:1 manuscript consulting, Reading Circles (where writers can share what they are working on), and plenty of time for reflection and discussion. Writers will also have lots of time to write. 
The Sanctuary restaurant
Developing this retreat has stretched me. I didn't know I was capable of creating such an experience. In fact, as much as I talked about wanting to do it, I think I feared dealing with the logistics and minutiae. Having great partners in Brian and Dave (who is a marvelous consultant on the project) makes all the difference.

But this is the most important thing: Saying yes, jumping off the cliff, and knowing that my wings will unfold. I've been learning that over and over again in our nomadic life. My brain surgery taught me that, too. And now I'm seeing this approach to life can work with other dreams as well.
Dave in the heavenly waters of Koh Phangan.
For more information about the retreat, check out our Facebook page or my website.

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