By Erin Stevens
I’m a proud resident of the Twin Cities. I’m also a proud alumna of UW-Eau Claire. Because of this, I’m often torn when I try to decide where I’m supposed to be. While I have many friends and a great job in the Twin Cities, my heart and my writing community are in Eau Claire.
So when I heard about the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild’s first ever Winter Writers' Weekend being held on February 4th and 5th, I knew that I needed to be there.
This might strike you as odd一why is someone from Minneapolis jumping at the chance to head over to Eau Claire for a writers’ retreat? There are plenty of reasons - too many reasons, actually一but here are the 5 that stand out most to me:
1. This retreat is unique to the area. Whether you’re from Eau Claire or the Twin Cities, Madison or Milwaukee, there really isn’t a program like this anywhere else in Wisconsin or the Twin Cities metro area. How many places do you find the chance to have a weekend writing getaway at a new, boutique hotel, with high quality writing instruction? Having lived in the Minneapolis area for a few years now, I can say I haven’t found any opportunities quite like the programs put on by the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild. This winter writers’ retreat is no exception, it’s truly one-of-a-kind.
2. Quality of Instruction. As a graduate from UW-Eau Claire’s creative writing program, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn from BJ Hollars. While I spent some time heckling him from the back of a classroom, I can wholeheartedly say that his instruction is one of my fondest memories of my time at UWEC. My writing drastically improved through classroom lectures and one-on-one writing conferences, so when I saw that he was going to lead this winter writing retreat, signing up was an easy decision. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with both Jamie and Charlotte, and so I know that feedback and advice from both of them will also be incredibly valuable. Whether you’re new to writing or you’re in the middle of your third novel, your work is in good hands with the folks running this show!
3. The Oxbow. I’ve been following their Instagram account for a few months now, and I’ve been dying to get inside ever since. The decor in the rooms and lobby are inspiring and inviting, and the food looks amazing, as well. Not only is this boutique hotel a great addition to Eau Claire, but, by hosting the CVWG’s first winter writing retreat, they’re proving to be a friend to our arts community, which was enough to make me hit the “submit” button on my application. The cost of the retreat includes one night's lodging at The Oxbow, two great meals, a snack, a drink ticket, in addition to live jazz in the evening. What more could you ask for? (What's that? You want a record player in your room and a vinyl lending library curated by Justin Vernon? Good news! You get that too! Pretty cool hotel, right?).
4. Read and Have Your Work Broadcast. If you love listening to books on tape, imagine listening to your voice reading your work back to you. That’s exactly what’s going to happen when you sign-up for the winter retreat. Blugold Radio一the hippest station in town一will be at The Oxbow during our reading, and they’ll be broadcasting your work to the world. How often do you get to start the day with an idea and end it with a public reading to be broadcast to the region?
5. Writing Community. In the big city of Minneapolis, I’ve found a lot of things. I’ve found my favorite coffee shop with a great, worn-in couch that’s perfect for tea, a good book and a rainy day. I’ve found two amazing independent bookstores that, between the two of them, I can find whatever it is I’m looking for. I’ve also found a great job. And yet, after trying a creative writing course in downtown Minneapolis and scouring the Internet for other writing organizations or groups in the Twin Cities, I haven’t found anything that comes close to the community that exists through the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild. The writers in the CVWG community are not only immensely talented, but they’re supportive and radiate positivity, which is unlike anything I’ve experienced in the Cities. This community alone is worth a trip across the state line.
So what are you waiting for? Spots are filling fast, so click here and reserve your seat, today!