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Dreaming and Doing- How Women at Woodstock Creates a New Wave of Writers

“I’ve always wanted to…….”

How would you finish that sentence? If it your response has anything to do with writing, publishing, creating a book, or completing a creative writing project, read on….

In my last post I described my life changing experience at Women at Woodstock Retreat back in 2015. Last year, I attended the first Women at Woodstock Writer’s Retreat. Initially I hoped to receive guidance on a project under way since 2014, the Discover Your Inner Queen book and kits.  Three months before the event a new idea rose to the surface. A novel. This was totally overwhelming, since writing non-fiction is easy to me, but to take an idea and create a whole story around one concept? How do people do that?

I went to the retreat with a double focus- learn as much as I could about how to turn Inner Queen into a bright, shiny, new and improved, updated manuscript and learn the ins and outs of pitching to publishers, and while I was at it, learn how to write a novel. In addition to this I had three pages typed and a vague idea of the story I wanted to tell (no spoilers here, it will likely be published under a pen name anyway….).

It is easy to imagine that spending a week in a beautiful wooded area in downstate New York as the leaves turn with the fall season, surrounded by beauty and serenity, with ample time dedicated only to writing, is the perfect recipe for some creative magick to happen.

But the experience was better than I could have imagined.

The first evening in, a group of us ladies from all walks of life gathered for dinner together (Oh my goodness, the food! As a picky vegan who doesn’t eat flour or gluten I expected to subsist on salads and maybe potato chips….but my God/dess the cook was outstanding!)…. We were each asked to introduce ourselves and explain what we hoped to gain from the experience.

A common theme arose- here at this table were women from all over the country, all levels of accomplishment (published to novice to on the verge of creating something but not sure what it will be….). The theme of what makes one a Writer was shared throughout the group. It seemed we each had our own version of “yeah, but” as in “yeah I have written (fill in unique way in which we diminish our work….) but I don’t feel like a “WRITER.”

It seemed we were all struggling to reach that Holy Grail of whatever it is that we tell ourselves stands between ourselves and the W. word.

But the retreat had a way of transforming all of that.

We had the option of attending workshops led by Linda Lowen, the resident Writing Coach, and in the long hours that filled space between workshops and (DELICIOUS!) meals, we could relax, mingle, or….write! In silence.

It can’t be understated how precious hours of silence are in our hectic world…..

In the evenings we had the option to share our writing, Salon style. Each writer would then receive feedback from this intimate group of women. We also had the opportunity to consult with Linda Lowen for individual guidance on our projects.

After a week, I had gone from a few pages of “I don’t know how to tell a story but here is my idea….” to having a manuscript draft of 70 pages with plot turns and twists unimagined prior to this period of creative incubation. As for Inner Queen, I had a spruced up reworking of a manuscript that had been stagnant for months as well as specific guidance on how to write a proposal and pitch to a publisher, thanks to Linda Lowen.

But wait…there’s more…..

In the months since the retreat, several of the other writers (by the end there was no doubt what made one a Writer, the act of writing!) had achieved significant success. As of July, 3 fellow Women at Woodstock alums announced that they had been published! Laura Iodice, Peggy Reskin, and Jill Dodd (For more on this exciting news click here).  Success comes in many forms and those who attended broke down barriers between dreaming of writing and writing, regardless of publication or not.

With the support of this community and the invaluable advice of my fellow writers and Writing Coach Linda Lowen, I too achieved a dream years in the making. Inner Queen will be published in 2018 by Conari Press as Queen Up! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down. 

If it takes a village to raise a child, then it stands to reason that it takes a community to bring out the Writer hiding behind layers of self judgment. The part of each of us looking for the right encouragement, guidance and energy to make our dreams come true.

For more information about Women at Woodstock click here.

For more information about Linda Lowen, click here.