Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of leading an advanced retreat with Susan Brown, a master writing teacher I met at the San Miguel Writer's Conference, where I've been teaching memoir for the past few years. Susan is the best writing teacher I've ever met. After a 30-year career teaching creative writing at the university level, she really knows how to get her material across. In addition to her great skills in the classroom, Susan has a great sense of humor and a contagious spirit of adventure, so one night, at a fancy party overlooking the Jardin in San Miguel, I invited her to come to California to teach with me. For our first retreat together, I didn't advertise; I hand-picked a group of students who'd worked with me for a long time-some of them for years-all ... [Continue Reading]
In preparing to lead the Coming Home retreat in November with my partner Karyn Bristol, I’ve been waking up in the early morning to reread one of my all-time favorite books: Sabbath by Wayne Muller. My copy is dog-eared and yellowed with many highlights, notes in the margins, the corners turned down. Every time I pick it up and read even a paragraph or two from its musty pages, my breath deepens and the tight places in my chest relax.I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this weekend retreat. It has a very different ... [Continue Reading]
I just had the great privilege and joy of facilitating my 8th annual Commonweal Writer's Retreat in Bolinas, California last week. "The Writer's Retreat of Your Dreams" is always one of my favorite weeks of the year. The confluence of a perfect environment, incredible healthy food cooked with love, the wild California coast, an incredible collection of writers, and ample time to dive deep into yourself and into words--always leads to powerful transformative experiences and a retreat filled with laughter, tears, profound and funny words, and love. Here's what a couple of the participants had to say about this year's retreat:
“Close your eyes. Imagine getting to spend a week on a mythological island, populated only by funny, creative, sensitive people of ... [Continue Reading]
1. Writing retreats lead to deep transformative experiences, cracking us open and awakening us to new possibilities. Nothing is as powerful as walking away from our daily lives to enter a safe, sacred environment solely focused on enhancing and supporting our creativity. One of the things I love most about retreats is seeing peoples’ faces change from the first day to the last. They often look scared and defended and uncertain on the first day—but by the end of the retreat, their faces are gleaming with love, connection and openness. 2. You leave behind all the things that distract you from your writing. When we are freed from our to-do lists and the relentless pressure of the “undone,” we are free to focus on our heart’s desire: connecting with the deep place the truest writing comes ... [Continue Reading]
I’m writing this from my fourth (or is it the fifth?) annual Writer’s Journey retreat at Commonweal. Commonweal is a large, comfortable retreat center in Bolinas California, butted right up against the cliffs and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a center that focuses on healing gatherings for cancer patients, and the sacredness and energy of those gatherings can be felt the moment you walk in the door. It’s a magical place. A safe place. A quiet place. A place for healing and rejuvenation. Creativity flourishes here.
Right now, 21 writers are splayed out around me in the living room in a large oval, some on cushy couches, others on chairs, some sprawled on the floor or perched in backjacks. We range in age from 21 to 70. We are from Toronto and New York, Texas and all over ... [Continue Reading]