Friday, March 19, 2010

Change Your (writing) Life in Ten Days

I've written about Writers Retreat Workshop before. The last time, it was a bit more nuts and bolts. (Click on the link in the first sentence for that entry) But I'm going to pitch it again because it's such a huge, important part of my life.

Eight years ago (almost), I attended my first WRW. I won the Robin Hardy New Student Scholarship (PDF application) and got to go for free. But even when I found out that I had won free tuition, I was super skeptical. I think I was having a Woody Allen moment: Did I really want to be part of a club that wanted me as a member? But I got over my insecurities, in no small part due to some long and involved email correspondences with one of the staff members: a very patient, very persuasive man who will henceforth be known as "Roommate."

Yes, that Roommate.

WRW is a ten-day, very intensive (think "boot camp") residential program for aspiring novel writers. But in the past eight years, I've seen memoir writers and screenplay writers and short stories writers go through the program and benefit as much as I did.

For the past blue million years (well, ok, the program was founded in 1987, so that's hyperbole), WRW has been held at the Marydale Retreat Center in Erlanger, KY. And honestly, even back in 2002 when I first attended WRW, if you'd asked me what I thought about WRW, I would have said that I had had ten of the most perfect days of my life... except that the facilities were kind of shabby.

So this year, WRW has BIG news. The program is relocating to the Saint Joseph's Retreat Center in Owensboro, KY. And holy cow, this place looks GORGEOUS. And, best of all, Louisvillagers, it's still basically in our back yard!

Listen, WRW changed my life in so many ways. I know I've taken some time off from "serious" writing lately for any number of reasons, not the least of which has been the after-effects of chemo. So I may not strike you as a "serious" writer. But I used to be. Pre-cancer, fiction writing was part of my daily life. And I hold out so much hope that this summer I'll be able to be a "real" writer once again. But before WRW, my writing was a hobby. Like scrapbooking or collecting troll dolls. After I went to one WRW, I felt legit. I felt validated. I felt like I knew so much more about not only the craft of writing but the business of writing. And don't kid yourself, kids, writing is very much a business.

But no smoke and mirrors here: WRW gave me so much more than that. WRW gave me Roommate, my very best friend and partner in crime since 2002. A couple years after I first attended, the founder retired and handed the reins over to Roommate, and he has run it ever since. And I have to admit, when I see Roommate teach the new student classes, I get chills.

WRW also gave me a new family of all of the attendees since 2002 and the core staff. It gave me a built-in cheerleading section for all of my successes since 2002, and a source of support for all of my trials since then.

And, frankly, I think you'd be hard pressed to find an attendee who didn't feel exactly the same way.

Do you need a "name" to attract you to program? How about this one: Michael Palmer. Palmer is the author of 14 medical thriller novels, some of which have ended up on the NYTimes bestsellers list. Palmer and his son, Daniel, a debut novelist, will be there teaching classes. In past years, the program has featured teachers/guests (both in person and via teleconference) such as Dean Koontz, Ayelet Waldman, Nancy Picard, Gregory McDonald, and Trish McGregor.

Folks who have been through the program and gone on to success include: Janet Chapman, Christine Goff, Jack Getze, Kimberly Frost... and many more.

You fancy yourself a writer? A fiction writer? A novelist? Gosh darn, kids... I promise you, you won't regret attending the Writers Retreat Workshop. You just won't. Expert advice. Thoughtful guidance. Good damn people. Always.

You want to know more? Email me at lou (at) I will answer your questions and give you more personal testimony.

In the meantime: This year's WRW is June 10-19 in Owensboro, KY. I'm 99.9% sure that the new student scholarship is still accepting applications. Pass this along to your writer friends. I would sure love to welcome them into MY WRW family.

Visit the website at: Writers Retreat Workshop

1 comment:

ruffaleau said...

Lou- As a WRW graduate, I so endorse what you have said and life makes a bit more sense to me now. Thanks. Fred