Kicking off with a welcome dinner hosted by editor in chief Kathleen Fleury, the retreat introduces you to Brian Kevin, Ginny Wright, and guest Maine authors. Learn about writing more engagingly, making your work stand out, and getting published. Ample activities for non-writers include kayaking, lobster bakes, and more.
We’ll get acquainted and talk about your writing goals for the coming days on Gay Island. Over dinner and drinks in Camden, we’ll discuss the writing of place and narrative nonfiction, and we’ll send you to your hotel room at the beautiful 16 Bayview with a story or two to read before bed.
Morning Session — Lens and Legwork in Narrative Nonfiction: Many of the most powerful pieces of nonfiction writing involve a writer telling a story that is not his or her own. After a tour of the Down East offices, we will travel by kayak (or motorized boat if you prefer) to our lodge on Gay Island. We’ll spend our early workshop delving into the craft of narrative nonfiction, paying special attention to perspective, point of view, and the reporting techniques that give a story detail and depth. We’ll practice interview techniques (a great ice-breaker for our first day on the
island!) and share a few favorite magazine stories with varying approaches to the genre.
Afternoon Session — Personal Essays: How do you put your own experiences on the page in a way that makes them universally relatable? We’ll explore the craft of writing personal stories that resonate with an audience, with a focus on balancing accuracy and subjectivity and on adapting sensory experience into prose that sings. There will be time for some low-stakes writing exercises with the option of sharing work for critique. The evening brings oysters, an Allagash beer tasting and lobster bake on the beach.
Morning Session — Writing Place: Some of the most powerful American writing involves communion with landscape and culture: from Thoreau’s narrated rambles through his beloved Eastern woodlands to Sig Olson’s songs of the frozen north, from Annie Dillard’s ascetic meditations at Tinker Creek to Terry Tempest Williams’ intimate maps of the high-desert West. We’ll look at some favorite examples and talk about how to synthesize techniques from the previous day’s sessions to produce powerful, insightful place-based writing.
Afternoon Session — How to Pitch a Magazine: Writers have, at best, just a few paragraphs to sell a magazine editor on their terrific essay or story idea. We’ll discuss some of the most avoidable pitching pitfalls, dissect several real-life pitches, and get specific on how to identify tropes, grab an editor’s attention, and understand the crucial difference between pitching a topic and pitching a story. In the evening we’ll be treated to a delicious dinner catered by a midcoast restaurant.
Morning Wrap-Up: Before we depart for the mainland, we’ll have a chance to take stock and revisit topics from the previous days, share some work or bits of insight, and reflect on our writing plans going forward. Then we’ll load up our gear and head back to Maine Sport in Rockport, say our good-byes, and start making plans for next year!