For the past three summers, I had the great privilege of welcoming writers from across the country to Cirenaica—our wondrous writers’ retreat in the Wisconsin wilderness. In total, we hosted 16, 3-day sessions, and in doing so, created a nurturing environment where 160 writers could write, workshop, listen, learn, and thrive.
This summer, we’re thrilled to bring the spirit of Cirenaica to our new location at The Priory. Originally established as a monastery for Benedictine nuns in 1964, today The Priory serves as an ideal location for creativity to flourish. Situated on 120 wooded acres just miles from downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the property features 48 single-occupancy, air-conditioned rooms, several common areas, and no shortage of natural splendor. And from July 18-21, it’s all ours.
As the snow begins to melt and I turn my eyes toward summer, nothing makes me more excited than the prospect of joining you and others for three days of creation, collaboration, and celebration. While there are dozens of reasons why you should apply, I’ve narrowed down my list to the top five. Read on, and then, apply today! Your writing deserves it.
1.) Personal Feedback From Writers-in-Residence.
At some writers’ retreats, you get to brush shoulders with greatness. But at The Priory, you get a lot more than that. For our inaugural summer, we’re thrilled to welcome four incredible writers-in-residence: Dasha Kelly Hamilton (poetry), Nickolas Butler (fiction), Mary Mack (comedy/humor writing), and David McGlynn (memoir/nonfiction). When you apply to work with these writers, you’ll really work with these writers. By capping each workshop at 12, we guarantee it. Each day you and your fellow participants will partake in a private workshop led by your writer-in-residence. Not only will your creative work benefit from this process, but you’ll be playing a vital role in supporting the creative work of others, too. In doing so, we all improve our writing, and we all learn collectively.
2.) Learning Beyond Genre.
One way The Priory Writers’ Retreat distinguishes itself is by fostering an environment in which all writers of all levels and genres can learn from one another. While our individual workshops focus on genre (fiction, poetry, memoir, and comedy writing—interpreted broadly!), participants will have the opportunity to learn from all of our writers-in-residence by way of daily craft talks. Simply put, our poets can learn from our prose writers and our prose writers can learn from our poets. In addition to shared learning, this interdisciplinary approach is geared toward encouraging collaborative opportunities. What happens when you put 48 writers in a room together? We’re about to find out!
3.) Field Trips.
Hailed as an “outdoorsy cultural mecca” by Time Magazine, Eau Claire, Wisconsin is, indeed, a city on the rise. And there’s never been a better time to check us out. (Want a preview? Just click here!). While much of our time will be spent on The Priory’s 120 wooded acres, on Saturday night we’ll board our chartered bus to downtown Eau Claire. The evening will begin with a reading by our writers-in-residence at our brand-new Pablo Center at the Confluence. Then, our bus will shuttle folks to various downtown locations, including The Brewing Projekt and The Lakely—two of our city’s finest establishments. Grab a drink, enjoy some live music, and celebrate your work alongside new friends.
4.) Putting the World on Pause.
As every writer knows, there are always plenty of reasons not to write. Our house is a mess, the laundry needs folded, the dishes need washed—the list goes on. At The Priory, we create the conditions for you to create. Each participant will enjoy a private room, as well as all on-site meals and drinks. When you’re with us, you don’t waste a minute cleaning, or folding, or placing a single plate on the drying rack. Your only responsibility is to be a writer and to give every minute to your craft. Trust us, by the end of our retreat, you’ll leave feeling happy, rejuvenated, accomplished, and inspired.
5.) The Best Friend You Haven’t Met.
A successful writers’ retreat depends on many factors: the writers-in-residence, the offerings, the food, the rooms, the property, the list goes on. Yet it’s the participants who ultimately ensure a retreat’s overall success. That’s right. It’s you. And you. And you. By bringing us together in this shared space for three uninterrupted days of writing, reading, learning and relaxing, we’re merely creating the conditions for the magic soon to come. No one leaves our retreats without a few new writer friends. Writer friends, I’ll add, that often serve as great editors, too. There’s nothing we love more than watching these friendships blossom over our shared love of writing. Join us, and make a friend, and be a friend, too. (Also, refer a friend and, upon acceptance, receive 10.00 off your fee!)