I’ve got to say that I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been invited—and have accepted—to be a mentor/guide/coach/cheerleader for writers attending the Sixth Annual Hemingway Writers Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas. Scheduled for June 16-20, the retreat takes place on the grounds of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer home and is in spitting distance of the barn loft where Hemingway wrote parts of A Farewell to Arms.
While I’ve known about the retreat for some years, my first real experience with it came last year while I was editor of the local paper. I’d gotten to know the staff there through the very wide variety of events they do for the community. Some I’d had the opportunity to cover myself, some I didn’t. Deanna Dismukes, Education Coordinator for Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum & Educational Center, and I had become friends over time, and she invited me to lead the Young Authors event. I led one there on-site for Piggott area students, and then one at the Rector High School for Rector area students. In both events, I taught the students the basics of Graphic Storytelling (you know, storyboards, comics, animation, etc.). I had a blast.
I was also able to go spend a couple of hours with writers at the Fifth Annual Retreat and wrote a front page story about it for the paper. It turned out to be one of the coolest assignments I gave myself while there. Check out the story here.
Writing retreats, conferences, etc. are a great thing for writers. Writing is a lonely occupation. In many other jobs, you associate with people on a wide range of tasks. A writer generally sits down at a keyboard and types. Granted, theinternet has helped some, as writers may now swap notes more quickly via blogs , forums, and the like. But still, when I talk out loud, I scare myself a little. No, not because I worry about losing it, but because the sound usually startles me.
Let me give you an example. When my wife comes home from work, she tells me all the events of the day. This person said that silly thing or this person had that tragic thing happen to it. Often, because of her position, I get to hear some of the really stupid things that college students do. Basically, she interacts with people.
I get to respond with something equally exciting: “My computer successfully saved my writing files today, honey! Can you believe that? And it didn’t crash.” Or…”I can’t get the flash drive to read on this computer–it works on the other one, but not this one. Doesn’t that sound frustrating to you?”
I think that’s one of the reasons that blogs have become so popular. Writers get to “talk” to folks this way. That is, if the computer doesn’t crash.