When you launch a brand new writers’ retreat in the midst of your own busy life, folks will naturally ask why. There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of writers’ retreats and residencies in the United States alone: why start a new one? What makes your retreat different from so many others?
These are good questions, of course. Here are answers, interview-style, because I used to be a newspaper reporter, and I like doing it this way. I hope that for those of you interested in MountainTop Writers Retreat, they’ll offer some insight.
Here we go.
Why launch a writers’ retreat?
I live in a beautiful part of the world, and was raised in a beautiful part of the world, and I’ve thought of offering my own writers’ retreats here for years. In fact, in the early spring of 2018 I hosted my first, private retreat at a lakehouse in the South Carolina foothills. It was a small weekend retreat, attended by Kimberly Brock, Emily Carpenter, and M.J. Pullen: three successful, published authors looking for peace, quiet, and time to write. Kimberly was already a compadre of mine, and she’d hooked the others. I cooked a welcome meal, we pooled groceries and wine, and I kept a fire roaring in the fireplace all day and well into the night. We all wrote like gangbusters, sometimes together. It was glorious. I walked away with two new friends, and the itch to do it again.
But I wanted to find a place a little closer to Brevard, North Carolina, the dreamy small town where I live with my husband, dog, and two young daughters (i.e. the people who require my time and attention). MountainTop Writers Retreat was officially born because of a bit of kismet: two Brevard friends, Ali Lien and Anna Bracco–awesome female entrepreneurs–bought Earthshine Lodge, an incredibly special property about 20 minutes away from town. There was a remote setting, 76 acres of gorgeous mountain meadow and forest abutting the Pisgah National Forest, views for days, a rustic-elegant private lodge, and so much more. I knew it was the perfect place to host writers’ retreats.
But, wait. There’s got to be more.
There is. There are other reasons, of course, to launch a writers’ retreat. Namely this: Writers need space, time, and quiet in which to write. Never before in my life as a writer have I felt this more than I do now, with a husband, two young children, a dog, a house, and multiple vocations/avocations/responsibilities calling–sometimes all at once–for my attention. I know I’m not alone.
Most writers have other jobs outside of writing, don’t they?
Yep. Writing tends to take a backseat to those jobs, to family concerns, to–let’s face it–just about everything else. Even when we have a set writing routine, it is often interrupted by, well: life. We know that at any moment, or at a certain point in the day, we have to walk away from the desk–no matter how well the writing flows. It’s rare to find concentrated chunks of writing time when we can really dig into the work; when we allow inspiration to have time to spark, ignite, and flame. Retreat–a true retreat, where we can put our focus solely onto our craft–gives us this time.
I have had the good fortune (and luck) to spend time as a writer-in-residence at other retreats and residencies. Time which spurred my work, which launched me into a new opportunity, whether it be an award or connection. Time which allowed me to focus only on my work, my writing, my creativity. It was a gift. And it changed everything for me.
MountainTop offers something else, too. It offers an opening for the magic to get through. As creatives, we all know ideas and inspirations live in the air around us, whipping about like invisible threads. Sometimes, someone else–another writer–grabs a thread before we can, and makes something of it. But there are plenty of threads for all of us. What we have to have is the time, and the quiet, in which to be still. So that we can see these threads, and pull them down for ourselves.
MountainTop Writers Retreat offers just that: time, quiet, and inspiration, in a gorgeous mountain setting. Every retreat with us is crafted to suit a writer’s individual needs. Every itinerary item is included, but optional. Each writer decides how much he or she takes part. Walk alone in the woods, join a hike, take a yoga class, rock in a rocking chair, cozy up by a roaring fire in a giant stone fireplace, or hunker down in your room in the Lodge, and plunk away at those laptop keys. This is what makes MountainTop different: It’s your retreat. Make it what you will.
What about the location of the retreat?
MountainTop Writers Retreat is also different from others because of where it’s located and what it offers: a remote mountain setting, a rustic-elegant lodge, a national forest at your feet. Many retreats or residencies are offered at the least for one week, and at most for months at a time. MountainTop Writers Retreats are hosted over long weekends, which give participants enough time to dig into new work, or to work on continued projects or deadlines, but not so long as to interfere with job or family responsibilities.
At every retreat I’ve attended, there have been times when I’ve wanted to keep working–to keep typing away–and for the world to leave me alone. But inevitably, I’d have to attend a workshop, or a pitch session, or interact at meals. Many times, this was welcome–and I enjoyed these interactions. But many other times, they were an interruption from the creativity sparking in my writing. I want writers to have the choice: to step away from their writing and to interact with others only on their terms.
Here’s what I want folks to get out of a weekend with us at MountainTop Writers Retreat:
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “retreat”, in part, as “to retire, withdraw. [To] remove, take away.” It is my hope that writers who join us at MountainTop are able to retire and withdraw from the busy world–from anything which may keep them from their writing. (Sometimes–a lot of the time–this means separating ourselves only temporarily from jobs, spouses, children, dogs, and duties.) By offering MountainTop retreats, I want to remove any impediment to creativity. I want to take away the things which stand between a writer and the writing.
All writers are welcome here. MountainTop is open to any adult writer or creative: authors, poets, playwrights, clergy, journalists, crafters, artists, and more. You can be anywhere in your journey as a writer when you come to MountainTop.
At MountainTop Writers Retreat, our goals are peace, quiet, seclusion, inspiration. I want writers to walk away feeling refreshed, re-energized, and excited about what lies ahead in their creative work and in their creative lives. I want them, too, to feel touched by the magic inherent here–in the Lodge itself, and in the surrounding mountains and forests. I want them to feel as if they’ve been given a gift.
Winter MountainTop is our upcoming retreat Jan. 30 – Feb. 2, 2020. We’re offering a coupon code now through Jan. 19, 2020, when registration ends. $100 off the total price by using code MTNWRITE. The discount is applied directly when you register. I hope you’ll consider Winter MountainTop as a gift to yourself, or to the writer or creative in your life.
For more information and to register, click here.
* Don’t forget to check out the information under the MountainTop Writers Retreat page of this website, and the tabs beneath for FAQ, bios, photos, and more.