Take one part beautiful island in BC (I recommend Bowen Island, the birthplace of Pulp Literature) and one part historic lodgings and add a gourmet chef with a laid-back personality. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine eight writers with different styles, preferably from a variety of locations. (This year’s combination of writers from the East and West coasts lent a tangy flavour and I’d advise repeating this balance of flavours).
Set the timer for one hour, five times during the course of the weekend. (Yes, we wrote five sessions and not only had time to read out our works to each other, but fit in a critique session as well).
Garnish with praise and encouragement and honest admiration for each other’s talents. Serve with a warm heart, and enjoy for the rest of the year. And share this recipe with others, because next year will come again faster than you think!
Next year’s Muse retreat is pencilled in for the 12th – 14th of January.
Dear Muse, thank you for showing up at our retreat on Bowen Island. Just when I thought I had no more words to write, you rescued me and my manuscript. I don’t think Superman has better timing. I hope I don’t come that close to crashing before our next retreat.
Dear Muse, I also want to say it was a nice touch to expand my horizons in the way you did. The selection of people at our table was like a vase of flowers with eight very different varieties in bloom. To see the contrast in our voices, yet to affirm each other in our different styles, brought health and a sturdy platform of confidence to my writing. Together we were stronger. Support is such an important part of long term success as a writer. Thanks.
Dear Muse, I’d also like to thank you for the food. I don’t usually get such careful cuisine for so many meals in a row. Or even one meal in a row. I felt the respect and craft that was put into the cooking seep into my body like some physical artistic elixer. And that didn’t even include the wine. I guess you are the Muse of chefs, too, aren’t you? And the Muse of bubble baths. And that was also a lovely walk through the snowy forest.
Dear Muse, please help me to remember how great this retreat was when I get discouraged later this year. Remind me that such places and spaces exist still inside myself. And when more opportunities come, let me grab hold of them and say yes. Saying yes was important.
For those of us who clock in at our keyboards and notebooks rather than stepping through the office doors every morning, ‘holidays’ are often a mixed blessing. We love the time spent with family, the food, the festivities, the break from daily routine. But in the back of our hearts we feel the tug of the loved ones we’re neglecting: our manuscripts.
Writers love what they do, and enforced time away from writing when the work is calling is a special kind of agony only fellow pen-monkeys can appreciate. To make matters worse, during the holiday season we open our houses to friends and family, busying ourselves with cooking turkeys, decorating, and wrapping gifts while our notebooks lie unopened, and our keyboards gather dust. We are in our offices, but unable to sit down and do the work we enjoy most.
As writers, we need a holiday from the holidays. That’s why at Pulp Literature we book the second weekend in January for our annual Muse Retreat. It’s a time for us to put the hectic holidays behind us, forget deadlines and production schedules, and simply write for three days while Dan and Julia at The Lodge at the Old Dorm pamper us with luxury accomodation and gourmet meals.
As always, we open the doors for a few other writers to join us. There are two spaces left and the price is only $899 until January 1st.
Non-writing spouses are invited to attend as well at a cost of $699. Bowen Island is a beautiful and inspirational place for walks in the forest, kayaking, and simply escaping the bustle of city life.
Your Muse deserves the gift of quality time with you. Register here to start 2017 with a well-earned break and come away with at least 3000 fresh new words on the page.
There’s something about Bowen Island that feeds the writer’s soul, and this magical place, a stone’s throw across the water from Horseshoe Bay, is central to the very existence of Pulp Literature.I first went there to write over a decade ago as part of Dale Adams Segal’s writing retreat through Langara. Her Hour Stories cards were a breakthrough for me, allowing me to muffle my harsh inner critic and revel in the joy of storytelling. And my early morning walks through the quiet, misty woods near Snug Cove allowed me to empty my mind and let stories pour in. Without that retreat, I’m not sure I would ever have written a novel — or even another short story.
A year later I returned to The Lodge at the Old Dorm with some of the attendees, and we hosted our own informal retreat. There, curled up on the luxurious bed in the Lady Cecilia room, I wrote the first lines of Allaigna’s Song: “If you walk down the grand staircase of Castle Osthegn, you will see a family portrait …”
If I hadn’t mentioned that writing holiday to Mel — who has lived on Bowen much of her life — I would never have known she was a writer too, she would not have introduced me to Sue, and the three of us would never have begun writing together using the Hour Stories. Our writing sessions together have produced the drafts of all three Allaigna novels, the delightful Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, Mel’s new mystery series The Seven Swans (see Issue 9!), Sue’s captivating historical novel about Esther, and many of the exquisite short stories you see from her in the pages of Pulp Literature.
But perhaps the largest creation to emerge from one of our writing sessions was the magazine itself. After a productive morning writing at Mel’s place on Bowen, the idea for Pulp Literature sprang almost fully formed: like Venus rising from the sea below the sunny deck where we drank our beer and supped on the inspiration of trees and wind and ocean.
Maybe Pulp Lit could have been born in Sue’s welcoming home, or my chaotic one, or even on the ethernet waves of Skype where we meet so often. But I tend to think the vital spark came from the magic of the island itself. Which is why we held our first Year of the Muse Retreat there this year, and why I’m so delighted to be returning in January 2016.
Fellow writers, I hope you’ll join us at the place where it all began, to steep your writing in the magic of Bowen.
The Muse showed up. That’s all you really need to know. If you’re a writer, you’ll know how that tastes, feel the warmth it creates, know how time stands still as you see the path forward, see the world laid out at your feet…
Our weekend on Bowen Island consisted of six participants and four teachers, and using the Hour Stories cards, we shared over 30,000 words of productivity together. Those words were read aloud in every available space over the weekend, before meals and before ferries. And that doesn’t even include the time we spent opening our eyes to beauty with Sandra Vander Schaaf, taking walks in the forest, enjoying fabulous food and good company, and winding down over drinks late into the night.
We’d like to thank all our participants for sharing their words and love of stories with us all, Rosie Perera for capturing the memories with lovely photos, and Karen Cowper for opening her beautiful home to us for our first evening meal.
To give yourself the gift of a retreat is to devote time with the Muse, and protect that time from the distractions of this life. Our collective writing momentum built during our days together, and it was hard to part with these storytellers, knowing that the words would continue to flow beyond each others’ hearing.
The feedback has been so positive that we plan to have another retreat soon, and not only at Bowen, but in France. Keep your eyes on our retreats page for details. Yes, we’re listening to the Muse this year. She’s calling from far away, and together, we’re going to find her!