This spring my writing buddy and I began searching for conferences offering creative writing workshops that we could attend together, struggling to find one that fell within our budgets and within a fair distance for both of us to drive. One afternoon I sent Wendy this note:
“We need wine…and rhyme…and more wine? Sounds like a good tradition to begin…the wine and rhyme retreat…an annual event and we are the founders. Now where where where?”
Within five minutes Wendy replied by sharing this announcement she had just received:
The Hobart Book Village, with its co-sponsors, presents the Festival of Women Writers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 6th, 7th and 8th, 2013, in the Village of Hobart NY.
The fee? Only ten dollars. And we found an affordable bed and breakfast near the venue. Within the space of 30 minutes, Wendy and I were registered for this writer’s conference, with our room booked and calendars marked.
On the morning of September 6, Wendy hit the road in Connecticut and I set out from Northeast Pennsylvania driving toward each other until we met in the middle in Hobart Book Village, New York, for the inaugural Festival of Women Writers. Cars rolled in from all directions across the Catskill Mountains, and this small village began to fill with women writers from all walks of life. Over the next three days we participated in concurrent workshops on a variety of topics. What follows is a taste of what transpired in my three selected creative writing workshops and culminated in open mic night.
Memoir: Remembering and Rewriting
Led by Mary Johnson, author of An Unquenchable Thirst and director/co-founder of A Room of Her Own (AROHO), a Foundation for Women Writers and Artists.
Mary shared about the 20 years she had been a nun with the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She talked about the importance of her story, why she wanted to share it, and the difficulties associated with retrieving memories. I was surprised to learn she had many of the same concerns as I regarding memoir. She graciously shared her approach to issues such as privacy and her decisions about whose names to use and whose to protect (and why) as well as how she might respond when others recall things differently. In addition, Mary walked us through a guided imagery and writing experience giving everyone a chance to remember and rewrite…and share.
The Big Fat Writing Journal
With Sophfronia Scott, author of All I Need to Get By.
Sophfronia shared in great detail how she uses her oversized binder to stay organized and on track as a writer, MFA candidate, wife and mother. She convinced me I needed a Big Fat Writing Journal of my own to get my work out of computer files and into an open form to move my writing along.
Poetry and Therapy
Presented by psychotherapist and poet Marianela Medrano, author of La Casa es Humana/The House is Human.
Marianela gave us a peek into the protocols of the National Association for Poetry Therapy as well as a chance to explore what it might be like to experience Poetry Therapy as a participant through writing—a fascinating and profound process.
Daily Readings and Open Mic Night
Daily Readings by presenters were well attended and Saturday night included an open mic for non-presenters. Both Wendy and I read from our work. Looking out at the group I saw their eyes on me as my eyes had been on them and felt their hearts with me as my heart had been with them—an air of reciprocity I sensed all night. When my first poem received applause, I was dumbstruck yet delighted by this unexpected gesture. Feeling a bit unsettled, I quickly moved to my second poem but knew this one moment was worth all it took to get there.
Tentative dates for next year’s festival are Sept 5-7, 2014. Wendy and I will be there. Will you?
Image by AnyaLogic. Used with permission. Post by Donna Falcone.
Learn about other writer’s conferences around the country and consider signing up for one of Tweetspeak’s upcoming creative writing workshops in fiction.
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Wendy Mauro says
Such an enlightening experience. You captured it well, but as the saying goes, “You had to be there!” Can’t wait to do it again!
Wendy, it was meant to be! So glad we did this together! 😀
Will Willingham says
Sounds like a great event; glad you found it together. 🙂
It was…. and together was a great way to take it in!
Megan Willome says
Elizabeth W. Marshall says
Well told. I am longing to duplicate your experience. How heavenly. Your passion is contagious!!!! So much goodness packed in one post, you got your ten dollars worth. Wait ten stinking dollars. ????? Really. Amazing. 🙂
Thanks Elizabeth… and REALLY! TEN!!! 😀 Hope to see even more wonderful women there next year, though not sure if the $10 fee will hold!
I think I read that you are planning a poetry workshop? It’s going to be terrific, I am sure! Have a great time!
Elizabeth W. Marshall says
Donna, I am taking the Writing Life workshop through TSP. Nope, not planning a poetry workshop, but would love to sign up for one one day 🙂 I may take the November poetry challenge, writing a poem a day.