13 reasons to attend a writers’ retreat

For rural writers, these effects amplify. (Click on the photos for larger images.)

  1. Yoga.

    Name, Tammy Rancourt, and Suzanne Ross salute the morning drizzle. Photo and yoga facilitation by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Moe Kafer, Tammy Rancourt, and Suzanne Ross salute the morning drizzle. Photo and yoga facilitation by Amanda Follett Hosgood

  2. Writing, writing, writing!

    Smithers writers Kym Putnam and Melissa Sawatsky. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Smithers writers Kym Putnam and Melissa Sawatsky find their muse. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

  3. You may accidentally discover a stellar location for a family reunion (it’s also pretty perfect for a writers’ retreat): Banner Mountain Lodge near Smithers, BC.

    Banner Mountain, I presume.

    Banner Mountain, I presume.

  4. It’s a way to stay up-to-date about new technologies and social media tools to boost your writing. You might encounter terms like pillar posts and discuss the ins and outs of affiliate ads. With luck, you’ll learn from someone as engaging and creative as Krystal Yee, whose financial blog Give Me Back My Five Bucks has been helping millennials budget their way to financial independence for a decade.

    Krystal Yee and Sheila Peters. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Krystal Yee and Sheila Peters. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

  5. You will eat well. If you’re lucky enough to attend the (almost) annual Rural Writers in Residence retreat in northern BC, the event might be catered by a food wizard like Moe Gauthier of Small Potatoes Farm in Smithers, who works magic with pea shoots and strives to supply the winter-frozen Bulkley Valley with fresh local produce year round.
  6. You’ll be offered enjoyable “workshops” exploring topics other than writing. If these topics include beer, for example, you won’t just sample tasty beers. You will learn things you never knew about beer, such as the meaning of dry hopping. (It’s not what you might think.)

    Our late afternoon beer-tasting session carried over into dinner.

    Our late afternoon beer-tasting session carried over into dinner.

  7. You will surprise yourself by doing things outside your comfort zone, like composing a three-gesture phrase in a collaborative dance piece and performing it to poetry. (My phrase happened to include some hopping. Not dry hopping, though.) If your luck is still holding, the workshop will be choreographed by fireball dance artist Miriam Colvin of Myriad Dance Projects, in which case you will have a blast.

    Miriam Colvin and her intrepid dance troupe. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Miriam Colvin and her intrepid dance troupe. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

  8. You will meet like-minded people—and their inner critics, who can be discharged to argue with yours while you all ignore them as you play a game of cards peppered by discussion of ghazals and pantoums.

    Terrace North of 54 poets Baxter Huston and Solveig Adair

    Terrace North of 54 poets Baxter Huston and Solveig Adair

  9. You will meet and learn from writers you have long admired, like Jane Stevenson and Sheila Peters.

    Smithers writer Sheila Peters reading from her work. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Smithers writer Sheila Peters reading from her work. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

  10. You might be given an opportunity to turn poems upside down and backwards with accomplished and supportive writers like Vancouver’s Elee Kraljii Gardiner, whose innovative first book of poetry, Serpentine Loop, has been shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Raymond Souster Award.

    Vancouver poet Elee Kraljii Gardiner at the poetry reversals workshop.

    Vancouver poet Elee Kraljii Gardiner at the poetry reversals workshop.

  11. Whether you’re looking for group inspiration or time for quiet reflection, you will find it.
    Saturday night's Rural Ramblings reading. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Saturday night’s Rural Ramblings reading. Photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Terrace writer Adrienne Fitzpatrick, photo by Amanda Follett Hosgood

    Terrace writer Adrienne Fitzpatrick captured by Amanda Follett Hosgood.

  12. You will laugh.
    Hazelton writers Suzanne Ross and Maggie Carew.

    Hazelton writers Suzanne Ross and Maggie Carew.

    Fort St James author Joyce Helweg reading from her work as timekeeper Emily Bulmer surrenders to the knowledge that you can't hold back a flood.

    As Fort St James author Joyce Helweg reads from her work, timekeeper Emily Bulmer surrenders to the knowledge that you can’t hold back a flood.

  13. Best of all, your stalled writing projects will find new fire.

Thanks to Amanda Follett Hosgood for the use of her photos, and for her substantial part in organizing and facilitating a wonderful retreat. Thanks also to Emily Bulmer, Morgan Hite, Sheila Peters, and everyone else who made the weekend brilliant. See you all next year!

10 Responses to “13 reasons to attend a writers’ retreat”

  1. JoanConway

    Love this summery Leslie, you captured the flavour of such a great weekend for sure.

    If I were to add another it would be meeting amazing new people like yourself tucked away in this northern landscape

    Reply
    • commatologist commatologist

      Thanks, Joan, and I return that thought straight back to you! One never knows what might be lurking on the back roads of the north! Looking forward to working on paper with you in more ways than one. 🙂

      Leslie

      Reply
  2. Sheila Peters

    I’m at the CICK station right now listening to Elee read her wonderful poetry – next week I’ll do Joyce Helweg, Nancy Huber and Jock MacKenzie. Keeping it all alive – thanks for this, Leslie – and it was great to meet you.

    Reply
    • commatologist commatologist

      I’m listening to you and Elee right now! I look forward to your other interviews with the retreat people. I feel blessed to have been there and to have made so many wonderful connections. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Maggie Carew

    This retreat was the first I have attended. I loved every minute, and came home inspired and encouraged.
    Thank you.
    Can’t wait until next year.

    Reply
    • commatologist commatologist

      Ditto everything you said, Maggie. It was wonderful to meet you again in another context, and I look forward to attending your writers’ group meeting tomorrow night.

      Reply
  4. Diana Z

    How did I miss this blog entry – I love it! Your use of “ghazals and pantoums” has me wanting to pull out my dictionary to figure out what these delightful-looking words mean. I would love to attend a retreat like this, especially in my home province of BC. Maybe next year?? Anyways, I love lists so this blog entry was so much fun to read.

    Reply
    • commatologist commatologist

      That’s it, next year you’re coming with me! We’ll have so much fun.

      Reply
  5. carin

    Missed this first time around. Lovely. I’m a believer in the power of a good retreat. Sounds like you’ve got yourself a dilly.

    Reply

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