So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Wildacres Retreat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wildacres Retreat. Show all posts

Friday, October 12, 2018

I need a writers' retreat!

I would be happy to rent out my studio to a writer who wants a quiet place to write for a weekend. So why can't I use my studio to write the two articles I am working on right now? Because just when I get into a zone, when all the words are flowing well, the telephone rings, a friend or family member is calling or another VIP needs me, or my dog Lexie begins to bark and tells me a car is in the driveway.

I have to stop writing and take care of the calls, answer the door or at least check out what is driving my dog nuts. My thoughts are interrupted, and I can't get them back. I turn to one of the million other projects that need my attention. Clear the clutter from my tables in the studio, get the stink bugs off the windows and off the floor, feed the dog or maybe get myself a bite.

I have promised myself a weekend writing retreat for some time, but it seems such a waste of money when I live in a cabin in the woods in the mountains. I have no one around who needs my time or attention except Lexie and she is spoiled. My husband, Barry, never wanted to leave home after we moved here. He could not understand why I wanted to go anywhere. "We live in one of the prettiest places in the country," he would say. 

What he didn't understand was that as long as I was at home I had laundry to do, meals to prepare, all kinds of other household jobs that took my time. He, however, could sit on the deck, have a glass of wine, smoke his pipe and listen to the birds in the trees. 

I wish I could be like Doris Buchanan Smith, a wonderful writer of children's books, who lived here part-time. When she was working on a manuscript, she did not go anywhere or let anyone in her house. She didn't wash dishes or clean because she was working. Writing was the only thing that was important to her at that time.
First published book by Doris Buchanan Smith

I wish I had that discipline. I have tried to understand why I let other things interfere with my writing time. I will blame it on my parents. They had this strong work ethic. My father planned his days so he could be productive and earn a living for his family. Mother's job was to take care of the house and everything in it, including the children. She was not the best housekeeper and neither am I, but like her, I do my best. I feel it is my job.

The advice we writers are given is to hang a Do Not Disturb sign on our writing room and not let anyone interrupt us. I have no children or a husband to interrupt me. I interrupt myself when the guilt of leaving dishes in the sink or clothes in the washer overrides my determination to forget it and keep writing.

I promise myself that I am going to rent a small cabin far away from home where it is totally quiet except for the soft sound of leaves falling off the trees.
I will take only my laptop computer and some food, water and a few clothes with me. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

But when I think about it and how much it will cost - money that is not in my budget - my heart freezes with the fear that I will not be able to create, not be able to write a decent page, and that I will worry or be concerned about something at home. Then I will have wasted my time and money.

After Barry died, I found a great retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. Wildacres is the perfect place to be alone to write because you live in a small rustic room and all meals are prepared for you. Although the lodge is filled with other artists working on their projects, the halls are quiet and no one will bother you unless you want to let them in. That was the place I went three months after Barry's death to decide how to live the rest of my life. The people I met there when we all gathered to eat in the large dining hall became special to me. I will never forget them. 

Dining Hall at Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, NC.
Maybe I am sitting at one of those round tables.

I had to stop going to Wildacres because unloading my car and reloading to go home became too much for me. Even the long walk down to eat was difficult at the time. Now I have learned that Mike, the director who was there, has resigned and a new person runs the place. I don't think it would be the same. Mike's sister and I became good friends. Marsha wouldn't be there now. It just wouldn't be the same. I have many happy memories of Wildacres and the people who were always there when I attended the Gathering in the spring or in the fall.

 Tara Lynne Groth gives good tips on planning a private writing retreat similar to what I dream about. 

I can have a writing retreat right here in my own home. Maybe I will do that this winter.
I just have to close out the rest of the world and put a Do Not Disturb sign on my brain.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

First Novel by a Mature Woman - Is it ever too late?

In September of this year, I attended the Table Rock Writers Workshop at Wildacres Retreat off the Parkway near Little Switzerland, NC. 
My favorite part of this type of writing experience is meeting other writers and hearing their stories. I am delighted to have met Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew at this workshop.
We talked a few minutes as we stood beside her car. I had claimed the handicap parking spot where her car had resided the first part of the week. Parking of any kind can be a challenge at Wildacres unless you have good legs and strong lungs to make the hike up and down the hills.

During the first few minutes of conversation A.J. confessed that she was on cloud nine. She had just received a call and learned her book, The Dry Grass of August, published in 2011, was in it’s ninth printing. No wonder her head was in the clouds. Mayhew’s first book was doing well and she had a contract for a second. 

I was impressed with this news. A.J. is a woman who has seen her seventieth birthday. We all know the publishing business is after the under 49 demographic. I could hardly believe the traditional publishing world would give a mature woman who was not already a successful writer, a two book contract

This novel is set in her hometown of Charlotte, NC back in the fifties. It was inspired by her memories of growing up in the segregated south of the United States. She hasn't lived in Charlotte since 1985, but discovered that all she wanted to write about was Charlotte.

I relate to her thinking. 
I now live in the beautiful mountains of NC, but I write from my memories of growing up and life in southwest Georgia. Even the best memories are not always complete, and we need to do research to get the feel of those days, to remind ourselves of how things were then. Whether writing fiction as A.J. Mayhew does, or writing memoir, we want our facts correct. See below how she researched her books.
This is a quote by A.J. from an interview on the Hambidge blog. 
Both for Dry Grass—set in 1954—and Tomorrow’s Bread—set in the mid 1960s—I’ve collected popular magazines of the time (Look, Life, Time, etc); browsing through them gives me a feel for life back then. I use many libraries, including the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Public Library, Perkins Library at Duke, Wilson at Carolina, etc. I’m leery of using the ’net, and I double-check everything I find there. However, the Internet has been incredibly valuable in leading me to sources.

We as writers should do as this author does and not depend on the Internet entirely, but use it to find sources we trust. 

Find A.J. Mayhew’s book, The Dry Grass of August, in your bookstores and online. I have seen nothing but good reviews. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I am going, Come along and enjoy with me.

For years  I have wanted to attend this workshop. I plan to go there in September. They have some places open. Register now.

Writers of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and music can now register for an annual workshop known for helping seasoned and beginning writers in one of North Carolina’s most glorious mountain settings.

Applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for this year’s Table Rock Writers Workshop, to be held Sept. 17 -21 at Wildacres Retreat, near Little Switzerland on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
SOLATIDO, a southern singer/songwriters’ workshop that runs concurrently is also open for registration.

Table Rock, originally known as the Duke University Writers’ Workshop, was reorganized in 2010 and continues with the same leadership and philosophy of support for writers of all genres and levels of experience.
Georgann Eubanks, who has directed the popular literary workshops for more than 20 years, also developed Solatido for songwriters. She is the author of the guidebook series, Literary Trails of North Carolina, a project of the NC Arts Council. The third volume, Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina, comes out next spring from UNC Press. The books are all about the state’s many accomplished writers.
“Writing is a solitary occupation,” says Eubanks. “It helps once in a while to gather in the company of other writers and receive feedback and encouragement. The Table Rock and Solatido workshops avoid competition and focus on creativity and craft.” 

Eubanks says some registrants are returnees, but newcomers always infuse the weeklong sessions with fresh energy and ideas.
The instructors at Table Rock this year are North Carolina writers Abigail DeWitt, Darnell Arnoult, Anna Jean Mayhew and Scott Huler.  Participants can also choose to take advantage of a first-time Reader-in Residence, Dawn Shamp. Writers can submit parts of a manuscript in progress and Shamp will provide a detailed critique including structural and technical advice. 

Music producer and composer Richard Putnam leads this year’s Solatido workshop. The keyboardist and arranger is comfortable with all musical styles and has been a session player in the Southeast for 30 years.
For more information: 

Contact Cindy Campbell, 919.923.8857,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing Your Spiritual Journey

Explore, write and share your reflections on the holiness of the ordinary in your life.
The past isn't over, it isn't even past. ~ William Faulkner

September 16 - 19, 2010
[Thursday dinner through Sunday morning]
Wildacres Retreat Center
Little Switzerland, NC 28749 Facilitator: Kathleen Moloney-Tarr 704-365-2112 or Cost: $295 - $310 includes 3 nights, 8 meals and program
Registration and additional information at

Thanks so much, Glenda!
Kathleen Moloney-Tarr
325 Hunter Lane Charlotte, NC 28211
PO Box 251 Little Switzerland, NC 28749