A Sampler of Summer Writing Retreats

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Photo courtesy SXC.

Summertime, and the writing is easy … whether or not that is true, summer does offer more than its share of writing retreat opportunities. Here are a few happening this summer that looked especially inviting.

ShawGuides: Guide to Writer’s Workshops and Conferences

If you need a place to start to stir your imagination, or just get the lay of the workshopping land, you could do far worse than the ShawGuides. Writers can search the nearly 1,000 workshops listed by location, genre or date. A click on “July” shows nearly 250 choices, including the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and the GLCS 2009 Literary Conference, hosted by the Golden Crown Literary Society.

A Room of Her Own Writers’ Retreat

This biennial retreat is hosted by A Room of Her Own Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the vision of Virginia Woolf and bridging the gap between a woman’s economic reality and her artistic creation. This year’s retreat will take place at legendary painter Georgia O’Keefe’s “Ghost Ranch” in Abiquiu, New Mexico and will feature a reading and seminar by Rita Dove, the former U.S. Poet Laureate.

St. John’s Multi-genre Writers’ Retreat 2009

This retreat, offered through The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, wins points with me on two counts: one, it’s being presented at St. John’s University in Collegeville, some 70 minutes northwest of the Twin Cities, with approximately 2,400 acres of forest, lakes, prairie, oak savanna, and wetlands to explore between workshop activities; and two, it balances serious workshop titles such as “Writing Journey, Sacred Journey: Writing as Spiritual Practice” and “Writing the Landscape” with a session titled “The Laundry’s Piled So High, I Can’t See the Washer: And Other Bad Reasons for Not Finishing Your Writing Project.”

Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop

The University of Kansas, my alma mater, is home to the Center for the Study of Science Fiction and apparently an epicenter of expertise for writing in this genre. The SF/Fantasy workshop will run concurrently with a broader Science Fiction Writers Workshop taught by legendary KU professor James Gunn. The novel workshop, taught by Kij Johnson, aims to help aspiring fiction writers generate the best possible chapters and an outline for a writer’s submission packet; to learn what will be necessary to complete or revise their novel with an eye toward publication; and to build bonds with other members of the writing community.

I can personally state that the location of the workshops, Lawrence, Kansas (a 45-minute drive from the Kansas City area), is one of the hippest college towns one could spend a couple of weeks in—and the traffic is (if I remember correctly) a lot less hellish on campus in the summer, so enjoy yourself!

Writers Retreat Workshop

Co-founded in 1987 by the late Gary Provost and his wife Gail, the ten-day Writers Retreat Workshop is described on the home page of its website as “an intensive learning experience for small groups of serious-minded writers who are committed to improving and completing their novels for submission.” The Aug. 22-30 session of the retreat, to be held at Marydale Retreat Center near Erlanger, Kentucky (adjacent to the Cincinnati metro area), will feature story structure workshops, one-on-one meetings, lectures, writing exercises, and lifelong memories, all revolving around retreat participants, their novels, and their lives as writers.

Writing Ourselves Whole: “Raw Silk” Erotic Writing Intensive

This one-day writing workshop, scheduled for June 20, is for women in the San Francisco Bay area who identify as “queer” (lesbian, bisexual, trans, etc.) and want to receive feedback on their erotic writing. This intensive, as with most of Writing Ourselves Whole’s classes, uses the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method. The website promises that participants in the one-day intensive will leave with a rich body of new erotic writing, feedback from peers about what’s already strong in their writing; and some thoughts about revising the work.

And finally, the low-budget option…

If you find your budget is too tight to visit one of these educational experiences, you may also want to check out Kitty Bucholtz’s post from earlier this spring on the Routines for Writers blog on how to plan your own writer’s retreat .

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