Writers search for that perfect workshop to invoke their muse and send them into a writing frenzy. On that journey, I followed the advice of Roberta Schultz and attended the Table Rock Writers’ Retreat near Little Switzerland, North Carolina in September 2012.
Traveling through the Blue Ridge Mountains on a rainy, windy Monday, we finally reached our destination. The mountains were hidden under a deep misty fog, which made me think of the mystical village of Brigadoon.
Table Rock writers meet at Wildacres Retreat for five days and four nights The classes are limited to twelve people, allowing for personal attention and classmate collaboration. Three hour writing workshops are the heart of the week-long event. Instructors and special speakers provide afternoon discussion sessions followed by “Table Rock Trivia” in which alert participants may win prizes for answering factual questions about the presentations. Wine and cheese on the terrace, overlooking the fabulous mountain view, highlight the hour before dinner. Participants sign up to share writing one evening during the week.
I spent my week freewriting with Abigail DeWitt in the novel writing class. A veteran novelist, Abigail kept the group engaged and facilitated great sharing among class writers. On the first day we knew it wasn’t going to be a one notebook week as we frantically filled pages writing with no electronic devices. I learned about my novel direction, about the motivations of my characters, and about myself as a writer. It was the most unique approach to writing I ever experienced. I’m still answering questions from that week.
In 2013, writing classes will include “The Sublime Fiction Triangle” with Darnell Arnoult, “Poetry” with Joseph Bathanti; “Writing for Children and Young Adults”with John Claude Bemis; “Jumping In: A Guide to Writing Your Novel” with Abigail DeWitt, and “Writing Memoir and Personal Narrative” with Judy Goldman. Registration forms are available online at http://tablerockwriters.com/trww2013.pdf
Table Rock is the best writing workshop I have ever attended. It surpassed my expectations and provided a welcoming non-threatening writing climate. Whether you are a veteran writer who has attended many weeks of workshops or a novice trying a retreat out for the first time, you may feel like you have stumbled on a mythical Brigadoon that you hope will never disappear from the mountain. As another 2012 participant sums up, “Best-taught, best-run, most-fun.”
Patricia Keefe, MAE, is a Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow who attended Table Rock in 2012 as part of a writing project. Her work has been published in the Indiana English Journal. Pat has written the Just for Kids column in The Shoals News for over two decades. She writes Flash Fiction every Saturday with the 24 Exposure online writing group and reads stories in the “Keep Hearing Voices” show on Crescent Hill Radio in Louisville. As a National Writing Project Teaching Consultant, she participates in the Indiana University Southeast Writer’s Project with Dr. Kevin S. Bailey in New Albany, Indiana.