Monday, July 18, 2011

Wildacres Writing Retreat - 2011


A poet lays a poem by my breakfast plate . . . a student’s reading moves me to tears . . . my class erupts in laughter at what is now a shared joke . . . a farm bell summons us to classes and meals… and always there is the beauty of the wooded campus and the pleasure of being surrounded by like minds -- others whose joy it is to play with words.

Faculty like Ron Rash and Phebe Davis. . .



Beautiful surroundings in which to socialize. . . or be alone with your hula hoops. . .
 

A faculty room much more interesting than the one you remember from high school . . .

Somebody else doing the cooking . . .
High atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, just off the Parkway . . . they call it the magic mountain.

I taught Commercial Fiction -- a grueling two hours a day with one day off. Back in June, each of the campers workshop participants  submitted about fifteen pages of their work in progress and all of us gave these pages our closest attention. During class, we discussed these pages, praising what we thought were the strengths and (gently) pointing out the weaknesses and suggesting ways to fix these problems.


We were dealing with all sorts of popular fiction -- thriller, sci-fi, chick lit, women's fiction, mystery, relationship stories -- and I was impressed with the level of writing and with the excellent critiques that emerged from our combined wisdom.
When the campers writers weren't in class, they were free to sit in on other classes, goof off, sight see, write, sleep . . .

 A lot of time was spent just hanging out. . .

There were faculty readings and student readings . . .  but it wasn't all work; there was considerable silliness.

Hollywood Night brought out some amazing characters. . . 
many of whom, I'd thought deceased. . .

 
Michael Jackson made an appearance --
Groucho and Harpo  looked on . . . and Marilyn was ravishing. . .
But wait! There's more! The final night was given over to skits and many an inside joke . . . The Gong Show is a yearly tradition and there's a whole room full of costumes, wigs, and props of various ilks.
A week at Wildacres Writing Workshop is an opportunity to hone one’s craft, to delight in the art of others, to sit at table with strangers who quickly become friends.

A little like summer camp with the bells, the communal meals, the skits, and the dress up night . . .
A little like beach week with the sense of having escaped from care and the jello shots, loud music, and dancing on the patio till the wee hours . . .
   And a little like Shangri-la, a place apart where wisdom can be found -- the Wildacres experience is probably slightly different for each attendee.

I highly recommend it.
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26 comments:

Ms. A said...

Vicki, those porch photos toward the mountains are amazing. I'll have to say... one trip to that faculty room would have had me down for the count. I would have absolutely no faculties left!

Desiree said...

What a marvellous review of what was quite clearly an enriching experience for all involved. The views and setting are magnificent and fleshed out with all the other activity scenes has made this so enjoyable almost allowing us to believe we were there too.

Martin H. said...

What a wonderful week you've had there, Vicki. Great photographs, too.

Friko said...

Have you booked yourself in for next year?
I'd love a week like that.

Pat in east TN said...

Sounds like you had quite a time! Thanks for sharing, and the pictures were outstanding.

We were to Grandfather Mt. the other week. A beautiful area, such as yours was, and the weather was such a welcome change, if only for a short time.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I had no idea workshops could be this fun. It's nice to be able to get away and visit with like minded people on subjects that are close to your heart. And spectacular views never hurt a thing.
Sam

Alan Burnett said...

It sounds fabulous Vicki. How about taking the show on the road and setting one up over here in Yorkshire. I'd sign up.

Merisi said...

The Blue Ridge Mountains are Shangri-la, aren't they? Such wonderful people, amazing they even managed to turn out skits and dress-ups! Gorgeous images, landscape, porch scenes, celebrities from the past, whatnot!

Brian Miller said...

this sounds and looks like a perfect location...love the look of the lodge...learning with a good bit of fun blended in...always fun...would def be going back...

Vicki Lane said...

I hope to be invited back -- (And I got paid for this great week!)

Jill said...

What a fabulous workshop!! All of that fun bringing out all of that creativity.

dannie said...

I spend several weeks every summer at Hemlocks Studio in Cedar Mountain. Having time to really focus on your art or craft without interruptions of "real" life is so renewing and vital for creativity. Wildacres looks like the perfect haven for writers. The pictures are brath taking. I love our mountains so!

Suz said...

a bit like the workshop at the Clearing in ellison bay
Do the campers do any writing while at camp?

Mel said...

What a perfect location, and from the sound of it, a perfect week. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jon Lee said...

This sounds like a wonderful week. Do you do this every year. I would love to attend this event. I haven't written for a long time, except for school papers. I may look into this workshop.

Louise said...

Sounds like a wonderful way to spend some time.

Mama-Bug said...

What a beautiful place to teach a class and get paid for it! I bet you had a great time. so glad you're back.

Carole Mehle said...

Part of what made it such a fulfilling time was our class time together! We had fun, and you were a great teacher.

Vicki Lane said...

This is one of the more affordable writing workshops around -- and I believe there are a few scholarships. And if you're intimidated by the idea of being critiqued, you can attend as an auditor-- sampling all the classes, if you like.

Many of the faculty return year after year -- this was my first year and I hope they invite me back.

Oh. yes, Pat -- this has been some fine weather. Alas, it's heating up now. I was in the garden all morning and am flat wilted!

Boy, I'd love to teach in Yorkshire, Alan. But I'm not into the organizing part.

Do the campers do any writing? Hmm -- I know that the poetry and flash fiction classes did -- I believe my class did some revisions -- but they also partied.

Speaking of my class -- they were a terrific group -- and very, very silly. Several people asked why there was always uproarious laughter coming from our room.

Bouncin' Barb said...

Sounds like a fantastic getaway. Loved the pictures. Has everyone who attends published a book?

Tipper said...

Looks like so much fun-I hope I can go someday : )

I haven't thought of the gong show in ages : )

jennyfreckles said...

That sounds wonderful.... and you got paid too?!

Vicki Lane said...

Barb -- many, maybe most have not had a book published. One woman in my class has a novel coming out this fall and was working on her second one -- one had been published years ago and was trying to get her groove back -- I think all the rest were unpublished -- at least in novels.

Victoria said...

What a beautiful place. You'd have to pry me out of one of those rockers with a crowbar...what a view!

L. D. Burgus said...

What a great place to be. I can see how you could rest, revive and be inspired by the people and all the activities. It is a beautiful place.

Deanna said...

Oh to have been a fly on the wall... That retreat sounds like a wonderful experience for everyone!