Writing Retreats

My work space.

Ahhhh.  That’s the sound of a writer who has had a weekend among her peers. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Gateway Writing Project’s fall retreat.  My friend Sioux Roslawski is the assistant director and organizes this event twice a year.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Gateway Writing Project, since 1978 it has been sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  It promotes writing among both students and teachers in districts across the region.

The first line of text on the site pretty much says it all. “Are you working on a dissertation? A memoir? Some poetry? A YA novel?” Unlike many retreats, this event isn’t genre focused. It isn’t juried.  There are no speakers, editors, or agents.  It is all about writers helping and encouraging other writers. This weekend, we had people working on poetry, NaNoWriMo novels, requested rewrites, journal articles and course materials.

Some of my fellow writers.

As varied as the types of projects were the ways that people wrote.  I was on my laptop.  A educational professor outlined materials for her new course using post-it notes.  A poet wrote in longhand.  Another teacher created bulleted journal grids.  As I worked, I heard tapping keys, the glide of markers, and so much quiet.

It was amazing.  Not only did everyone have hours and hours to write, we had encouragement and fed off each others energy.  There were no worries about what a visiting editor might say or whether or not the agent would like how a piece had been rewriting.

Sure, marketing was discussed.  But more than anything it was about the writing.

The first time I attended this event last spring, I was a little intimidated.  I’m not a teacher, I told myself.  And that was still how I introduced myself this weekend.  “I’m not a teacher, but…”

This weekend they helped me understand.  I’m not a teacher who writes.  I am a writer who teaches.


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