Tag Archives: Anne Winchester

Hemingway in the Spring

Longtime visitors here will recall my association with the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center located in Piggott, Arkansas. The Pfeiffer home is where Hemingway lived for a short time while married to Pauline Pfeiffer and where he wrote parts of A Farewell to Arms. I have a great affection for the place not just because they invite me there, but because it’s in Piggott, my second home of sorts.

The museum holds three annual retreats. Writing retreats are different from writing conferences in that the object for the writers (most of them) is to get away and just write. At a conference, the writers play more of a student role and sit in on lectures and presentations. While there are fun writing exercises for the writers at the HPMEC retreats, the goal is to WRITE! My function as mentor is to lead them in the short exercises, provide feedback and comments to them on their writing, and to generally encourage them to get’er done! I very much enjoy reading the work and offering the encouraging feedback. Writing is work, yes, but it should also be fun!

HemingwaySpring2014 copy*Pictured: Bethany Mallett Stephens, Linda Wyss, Anne Winchester, Barbara Taylor, me (in all my bearded glory!), Susan Hemingway, Ethan Baker, Doug Hemingway, Fay Guin. Yes, we did have a couple who shared Ernie’s last name and Doug even looked the part of Ernest!

I’m not sure exactly when the retreats started, probably 2002, because 2008 was the 6th Annual. Initially they were weeklong summer retreats led by Dr. Rob Lamm from Arkansas State University. I learned about the retreat when I was editor of The Piggott Times in 2007. The very next year, 2008, one of the mentors couldn’t make it and they asked me to step in to to help out, which I gladly did!! The retreats had become so popular that they decided to begin an annual Fall retreat and I was asked to lead the first one. It was an abbreviated version (three days), but was no less packed with writing! In April of 2011, I was then asked to lead the first ever Spring retreat, a near-mirror image of the Fall version (meaning, it’s just a little shorter).

During my association there, I’ve worked with three different directors, but it’s a testament to them and the staff there—who are fantastic!—that the retreats continue to grow and flourish. Last week, five of the nine retreating writers had never been to any of the retreats before (and I specifically mean the HPMEC retreats, not retreats in general…because I don’t know the answer to that).

Writers come from all over, but mostly from the Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee area. I understand there was a New York writer there this past fall.

If you’re a writer and you’ve never been to a retreat, the Hemingway Writers Retreats are excellent ones to attend. They’d take great care of you and you can write where Hemingway did—maybe even channel some Hemingway in your writing.

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The 2nd Spring Creative Writers Retreat

The Second annual Spring Creative Writers Retreat was held at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. Once again, I was honored to serve as the mentor/instructor. This marks my fifth year to be involved as a mentor/instructor. As always, it was an incredible experience.

Some have asked how I got involved with a Writers Retreat in farming country Arkansas. Well, I’ll tell ya! When I moved to Piggott to become editor of the then Piggott Times, I worked hard to get to know the people I didn’t already know. Keep in mind, my family has been there for 150 years and has a long history there so I’m kin to about one-third of the folks there. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I know how I think it did: Deana Dismukes, who was then the Center’s administrator, had been delivering press releases to me. The summer of 2007, she asked me to come up and talk to the writers at the retreat. It was in the 5th or 6th year. She bribed me with lunch…and so I went. I did a story for the paper on the retreat and the writers there.

Then, in 2008, after I’d moved to Oxpatch, Deana asked me to come be the assistant mentor for the week long summer session. It seemed the mentor who’d help get it all started, Dr. Rob Lamm, had responsibilities elsewhere and his assistant was stepping up. I gladly accepted!

The retreats were so popular with the writers they demanded a Fall version. Thus, that November, a three-day Fall retreat saw its inaugural session with me as the only mentor. The others had regularly scheduled school responsibilities and I was available! The next year, 2009, the Fall retreat expanded to a weeklong event. Last year, 2011, writers demanded a Spring retreat. It was—and still is—a three day event. I’m honored to have been the only mentor at all of the Fall and Spring Retreats, and I love to see the continual flow of new writers coming to get some of Hemingway’s ambiance (he wrote parts of Farewell to Arms in the barn studio there on the grounds).

Generally, I give the writers a mini-lecture followed by writing exercises both in the morning and then after lunch. Many of them come with projects they’re working on (like novels) and just want some time to get away and write! I know of about three novels that have been at least partially finished—or at least worked on—while at the retreat.

This year was no exception with a slightly smaller—but no less talented group. Pictured are: front (l-r) Dr. Adam Long – Associate Director for the Museum and Ed. Center, me, Mary Lou Moran; back (l-r), John Achor, Shannon Richards, Linda Wyss, Jane Gatewood, Jerry Davis. Not pictured are Anne Winchester and Brett Thielemier.

If you’ve ever considered a retreat, let me encourage you to consider the Creative Writers Retreats at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Tell’em Roland sent ya!

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