“Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence. It is life at its most free. Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression in the sense of wild blurting; you may not let rip. It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate enough to be able to try it, because you elect your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself.”
– Annie Dillard from The Writing Life
Dear Writers and Creative Friends,
You’re fired up with ideas, passionate about a story you want to tell, a story big enough to be a book. Maybe it’s fiction, maybe a true-life account. But where to start? How to organize? How to create a structure that will encompass the big story and create a sense of forward momentum, excitement, suspense, and finally a satisfying resolution? The process can seem overwhelming, even if you’ve been through it before.
Join Philip Gerard, one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever worked with, for four days of intensive exploration into the creative process, with a focus on making the book in your imagination come true on the page. Through writing and workshop, we’ll do practical work to establish the “DNA” of your book, be it fiction or nonfiction: its structure and scope, narrative stance and diction, characters and their predicaments, and the all-important through-line or arc of story. Participants will leave with the blueprint of a viable book, as well a sheaf of pages that capture its essence.
This workshop is equally appropriate for any writer who wants to write a book. We also recommend this workshop for teachers who could use a shot of inspiration and who would like to be introduced to new methods. Though we’ll focus on planning the book-length manuscript, writers who want to explore ideas and methods for writing fiction or nonfiction will find it a fertile environment.
There will be time to share our work with the group, as well as opportunities to receive feedback and guidance. In addition there will be time to rest and retreat in the extreme beauty of Mayacamas Ranch with its hidden lake, salt water swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and miles of hiking trails through chaparral, fragrant bay and madrone forests.
Set on a hilltop ridgeline above the town of Calistoga, in Napa, CA and surrounded by spectacular 360-degree views, Mayacamas Ranch provides an awe-inspiring, natural setting. With its secluded and expansive grounds, comfortable guestrooms, organic based cuisine from their garden, Mayacamas is a stunning, secluded retreat center. Mayacamas has guest units and cottages situated in various buildings on the property. All beds are 100% organic and feature organic sheets in all rooms. There is also a heated salt-water pool and hot tub, hiking trails and a spring-fed lake. To see more of Mayacamas Ranch, visit www.mayacamasranch.com.
The fees are all-inclusive, including the workshop, lodging, and all meals. The workshop begins with lunch on Monday May 13th, 2013 and ends with lunch on Thursday May 16th. Double occupancy (sharing a room with another person) is $1290. Single occupancy is $1580. If you’re registering with a friend and want to room together, just let us know, otherwise we’ll give you a roommate. If you’re a couple let us know and we can arrange a queen or king size bed. The size of the workshop is limited to 15 participants and registration is on a first-come basis. A $400 deposit is required to hold your place.
To Register: Please email Laurie Wagner at email@example.com. After speaking with Laurie, make your check payable to Laurie Wagner, and send to 27 Powers Ct. Alameda, Ca. 94501 The balance is due April 1. If you need to arrange a payment plan, just let us know. We’re flexible and we’ll do our best to accommodate your needs. If you register and then find that you cannot attend the workshop, let us know as soon as possible and we’ll try to fill your space with someone from the waiting list. If we or you can fill your space, we’ll refund your payment, minus $100 administrative fee.
Mayacamas Ranch is about an hour and a half north of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re driving or need a ride, carpooling can be arranged from the San Francisco bay area or for folks arriving at SF airport. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Laurie at firstname.lastname@example.org
This retreat will fill up fast – we will only take 15 people, so get in touch soon if you’d like to be there. We hope you can join us!
Philip Gerard is the author of three novels and five books of nonfiction, as well as numerous essays, short stories, radio commentaries, an hour-long radio drama, and eleven documentary scripts for public television. He chairs the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is co-editor with his wife, Jill Gerard, of Chautauqua, the literary journal of Chautauqua Institution, N.Y.. His collection of personal essays, The Patron Saint of Dreams, was released by Hub City Press in 2012 and was awarded the North American Gold Meal for Essay/Creative Nonfiction from the Independent Publisher. Down the Wild Cape Fear: A River Journey Through the Heart of North Carolina is forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press in Spring 2013. He is the recipient of the 2012 Sam Ragan Award for Contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina, an honor shared by Tom Wicker, David Brinkley, and Fred Chappell, among others. Currently he is embarked on a four-year-long series of historical narratives exploring the Civil War in North Carolina. www.blairpub.com/authors/gerard_philip