I love this time of year! I’ve always embraced Back-to-School season, as a mom and as an elementary school speech pathologist. I love new Sharpies. I love blank notebooks. I love that the end of August forced our household back to a more scheduled life. (Not that I didn’t love lazy summer mornings, mealtimes that just happened when the stomach growled, and bedtimes determined by when the movie ended. Oh, I love that! But, you know. All good things…)
This year, life’s a bit different at the Houts Family Farm.
First of all, there are no more kids going back to school. The youngest Houts will fly from the nest in just a few days, but that’s a totally different post. (Maybe next week, when I’ve been sufficiently mopped up and wrung out. Maybe.)
And, second, I’m not going back to school this year. Last May, I resigned (not retired – the difference is that there will be no retirement check coming – at least not for several more years) from my school speech therapy job to write full time. When an author is first published, they say, “Don’t quit your day job.” But just when it is okay to leap into full time writing? For me, it was ten years and ten books. (But that, too, is a different post.)
So, this year, there’s no traditional Back-to-School for me. But I realized recently that good writers are always looking for learning opportunities. I blogged about it over at The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors a couple of weeks ago. I talked about some of the amazing opportunities I’ve had to be mentored by the likes of Jane Yolen and Ashley Bryan. You can check out that post here.
At least once a year, I try to seek out a learning experience at a higher level than before. The more I teach others the craft of writing, the hungrier I become to be challenged and grow as a writer. So, I thought it would be great to start a list of mentored writing retreats, and I hope others will add to the list. Because, it’s that time of year, you know. It’s time we all go Back to School.
LoonSong Writer’s Retreat – Minnesota, September. If you saw the list of this year’s faculty you’d be kicking yourself for not registering for this one. (Kicking, kicking, OUCH!).
Marion Dane Bauer Mentorship – Minnesota, various times – This one of those too-good-to-be-true opportunities, but it isn’t. Too good, that is. Or untrue. It’s real. Just click the link to read about it.
The Highlights Foundation – Pennsylvania, year round – This is likely one of the best-known retreat centers catering to those who wish to write for children. The retreat focus and faculty change with each session, so there’s likely something for every writer here.
The Loft Literary Center – Minnesota, year round – Offers writing classes at all levels in many genres.
The Writing Barn – Texas, year round – A retreat space that offers one-day and longer writing opportunities.
Whispering Pines Retreat – Rhode Island, March – An SCBWI event with amazing faculty and a long-standing reputation.
Kindling Words – East: Vermont in January, West: (2018) Scotland in March – Not a mentored retreat, but more of a meeting of the minds. Must be published to attend. East is so popular, there is a lottery system for those wishing to participate. Click for eligibility requirements.
Big Sur Writing Workshop – California, December – Their faculty is loaded with authors, editors, and agents. Plus, California. In December. What else is there to consider?
Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Novel Workshop and Retreat – California, September – An intensive, whole novel workshop that’s been running for 15 years.
So, there’s a list to get us started. Searching for writing retreats will lead you all over the map – Scotland, Hawaii, Ireland – the opportunities are amazing!
And, remember, anyone can retreat. My favorite writing retreat is simply a group of children’s writers who organized themselves, rented a seaside cottage, and have been gathering annually for more than 14 years.
If you write for children and have a retreat to share, please do so in the comments below!