Interlochen Writers Retreat

What a line-up!

Just twenty-four hours from now, I get to fly to one of my favorite, creative places on the planet: Interlochen Center for the Arts. Readers of The Writing Life will know I’ve been there many times before, in various capacities. The notable facts about this upcoming journey are that I’m in my 5th year as Artistic Director for the annual Writers Retreat and am very proud to say that we are booked full to capacity at 48 participants, with waiting lists for every class–for the first time in 10 years. After a lot of digging around and brainstorming this winter, paired with productive phone conferences with the delightful Director of Interlochen College of Creative Arts, we were able to tweak marketing and programming needs in all the right ways. I’m overjoyed that this program is full, because in my (biased but humble) opinion, it offers several unique features writers attending other conferences will be hard-pressed to find.

If you’re in the area, several events at this retreat are actually free and open to the public. These are inspiring, thorough, and worth the drive. All events take place in the Writing House on the campus of Interlochen Center for the ArtsFree entry, free parking, with book sales and signings to follow. Please consider joining me for:

  • A public reading by award-winning authors Mary Kay Zuravleff and Katey Schultz. Mary Kay will read from her latest novel, Man Alive!, and Katey will read for the first time from her novel-in-progress. Join us at 7:30pm on Monday, June 15.
  • A public reading by authors John Mauk and Holly Wren Spaulding. John will likely read new, award-winning fiction following the release of his first book, and Holly will read from her incredible selection of poems in PilgrimJoin us at 7:30pm on Tuesday, June 16.
  • A public reading and celebration for author Anne-Marie Oomen, whose fifth book released in April to great success. She will read from Love Sex & 4-H and will not disappoint. Join us at 4:15pm on Wednesday, Jun 17.

Another reason I’m so excited for this event, despite the fact that I hate leaving my newlywed husband behind for 8 days, is that it represents the friendliest, most grateful group of literary folks I have ever encountered. Time and again, the writing community that gathers in Michigan (largely through National Writers Series and Michigan Writers) and at this Writers Retreat in general, wins on all accounts when it comes to friendliness. And I’m not talking about the kind of “self-licking ice cream cone” friendliness that feels like a pat on the back for a sentence well-written. I’m talking about genuinely kind people who want to show up, try hard, do the work, and make connections with well-meaning people while they’re at it. Second, the retreat is generative. No one shows up with their “perfect” novel, shoving it under noses, searching for an agent. There are other places for that. Here, writers with in-progress projects or first-time blank pages show up for craft talks, prompts, and new writing all in the spirit of discovery. A writer three drafts into her novel may come away with keen insights about her protagonist, thanks to a writing exercise or break-through insight during a craft talk. A beginner with loose ideas for a memoir may discover a powerful theme in his work, remember something from childhood long-ago thought lost, and even learn about a new literary magazine open to submissions. The possibilities are many and the feeling in the air all week long reflects this.

I can’t wait to arrive…

[Curious for more? Interlochen has added a special “5th day” to the Retreat called a Practicum, which focuses on publishing. It’s only $35 for the day and there are spaces available. Info here.]

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