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WRITING WITH NATURE

 

Sarah Selecky

FEBRUARY  16 - 23, 2020

Join Sarah for a week of deep writing in a master class for writers of all genres. 

 

Learn how wilderness, deep ecology, permaculture, and exploring the natural world can inspire and bring courage to your writing process. You will learn how to connect to a vast source of wonder and inspiration, and feel supported by the sophisticated natural systems that surround you every day.

 

During this week of writing, we will be diving deep into our work as writers as we reconnect to the wordless, natural world, and practice new ways to creatively participate in the intelligence of nature. 

Bring whatever you are working on to this retreat. If you’re stalling or circling around writing something new, this is the perfect time and place to start it. You can also bring a craft question or a writing problem that feels unsolvable, and we will look at it together.

 

*Note: you will be writing with nature, not necessarily about nature — though nature writers are welcome.


 

ABOUT THE RETREAT

 

In the morning, you step out of your room with a view of the gardens, and walk the tree lined path up to the yoga barn to invigorate your body in a morning movement class. After breakfast you'll have a few hours to write before we meet in the studio for our late morning workshop session. 

 

The afternoon is free for you to write, go for a long walk, or read and research before we gather for one of the optional workshops, lessons, and events designed to take you deeper into nature. 

 

You take time to rest and reflect on what you’ve learned before it’s time to gather again — for a delicious organic plant based feast that includes items you’ve foraged from the garden yourself. At dinner, you and your fellow writers celebrate another day of deep writing .

 

Then we all settle into the Hall for our evening salon, to share some of our work and discuss the insights of the day.

 

 

LOCATION

 

Springfield Farm is situated on the traditional lands of the Dharawal people, and is only five minutes drive from Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park.  The energy here makes it excellent for writers who want to get out of their own way, and feel the ease of creative flow and wonder.

 

Writing can create connection — to ourselves, to the earth, and to each other. Good writing does not alienate or isolate; good stories never make us feel silenced. In our writing, we may question the status quo, offer meaningful reflection, create cultural change, and feel less alone.

PRAISE FOR SARAH SELECKY
AND  RADIANT SHIMMERING LIGHT

‘In Radiant Shimmering Light, @SarahSeleckyWS nails the Perfect-Yourself 35-43 gen in all of its hopeful internet-brand-conscious pyramid-scheming empowering goddessiness. Social satire + cultural insight whipped into a yummy froth! You’ll laugh + shed a tiny precious tear, my petals!’

@MargaretAtwood

‘Our online world provides endless humorous possibility and here is a book that’s witty, timely, and smart with regard to social media. But then, quite wonderfully, Selecky’s story turns more complicated than it first appeared. Bursting with energy and color, every page delights and provokes. This book is a dazzler.’

Karen Joy Fowler

‘Sarah Selecky could easily be the next Alice Munro.’

Chatelaine

‘The human desire to belong is at the heart of Sarah Selecky’s radiant, shimmering novel. In the person of Lilian Quick, Selecky has created an irresistible heroine. She has once again proven that she is a writer perfectly attuned to the music of the present moment.’

Barbara Gowdy, author of Little Sister

‘Radiant Shimmering Light is inventive and modern. Sarah Selecky delivers a cast of characters who are both recognizable and utterly unique inthis novel that is as luminous as its title.’

Marissa Stapley, author of Things To Do When It's Raining

‘Fresh and original, Sarah Selecky’s novel cleverly satirizes our insta-world but also takes its characters seriously enough to give them an ending that’s moving and transcendent.’

Kerry Clare, author of Mitzi Bytes

‘Selecky has written a satirical and contemporary novel about the enlightenment and life-branding industries…An intriguing novel which will elicit a wide range of responses from readers. I can’t think of a more perfect novel for a book club.’

Readings

‘This meditative, funny, groovy, and absolutely beautiful book kept me entranced beginning to end. The intrigue and mystery of self-help movements shimmers throughout the narrative, and our narrator, so full of life, hearkens back to the plucky heroines of Jane Austen, but with a modern wit and vivacity all her own. I loved the rich, meaningful hours I spent with this book.’

Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

‘Selecky’s great strength is her tone…she sits quietly and observes, letting all that commodified spirituality satirise itself.’

NZ Listener

‘A polished and crisp satire…a journey depicted with both humour and sharp reflection.’

Otago Daily Times

‘Selecky’s biting, tragicomic first novel is an insider look at the intersection between the sincerity of belief and the commodification of aspiration… [Her] deadpan tone, punchy writing, and vivid characters transport readers to a specific, highly diverting world that hits close to the bone and sparks the self-reflection it’s spoofing.’

Booklist

‘Selecky’s sharp parody explores female friendship and questions the role of consumerism in women’s empowerment and self-improvement trends.’

Real Simple, Best Books of 2018

‘If you’ve ever fallen asleep during savasana in yoga class or gotten a headache from your essential-oil mix, Sarah Selecky’s hilarious debut novel about self-help gurus and the people who follow them is for you…There’s plenty of laughs—but lots of truth, too.’

Washington Post

‘Selecky bucks expectations in her satirical portrait of estranged cousins Lilian, an artist obsessed with social media and finding enlightenment, and Eleven, a guru behind the cultish organization called the Ascendancy…A radically gentle takedown of capitalist spiritualism…[Selecky] still finds plenty to make fun of in this ridiculous – yet frighteningly familiar – world.’

Entertainment Weekly

‘This sharp, smart read is a timely warning to put your devices down now.’

North and South

MEET THE AUTHOR

Michelle_Yee_Sarah_Selecky-7.jpg

Sarah is the author of Radiant Shimmering Light and This Cake Is for the Party. She created the Sarah Selecky Writing School in 2011, which has since grown into a creative community of over 10,000 writers from around the world.

Her first book, This Cake Is for the Party, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book in Canada and the Carribean, and it was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize. The New York Times called the stories “utterly fascinating.” You can find her writing in The Walrus, ELLE Canada, Fashion Magazine, and a variety of newspapers and magazines.

Sarah has studied with exceptional teachers, including Natalie Goldberg, Lynda Barry, Zsuzsi Gartner and Karen Joy Fowler, and works under their influence. She is an alumna of Hedgebrook, the Humber School for Writers and The Banff Centre, and graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MFA in Creative Writing.

 

Sarah's new novel, Radiant Shimmering Light, is available in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, and has been optioned for a television series. 

She has been teaching people how to write receptively since 2001, and started teaching because she couldn’t find a writing workshop anywhere that taught her what that she wanted to learn.

Sarah's living room writing school transformed into an internationally celebrated online writing school in 2011. Two years later, Sarah launched The Story Intensive, a creative writing and mentorship program that runs every fall, and includes guest lectures with Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Ruth Ozeki, and Ann Patchett.

 

The school also hosts an annual international writing contest,  gives $1,500 annually to emerging writers and publishes a beautiful anthology every year, with proceeds going to charity.

Sarah's teaching style is "more literary-based than journalling and reflection, and more heart-and-spirit based than pointy or intellectual criticism."

Sarah believes good writing needs "heart, consciousness, skill, and presence".

She helps writers bring insight and innovation to their work by writing and speaking about creativity, mindfulness, and literature.

Sarah's approach to teaching, in her own words:

"My method is a hybrid of literary craft and unapologetic love. I approach writing as an art, and also as a contemplative practice, believing that skill comes from study, that inspiration comes from love, and that both are necessary. Writing creatively demands a special kind of attention; it needs to be laced with kindness and benevolent boundaries.

 

What I do:

1. I try to bring inspiration, peace, and creative satisfaction to writers who want supportive, honest, smart advice about their work. 

2. I challenge writers to trust their own reading, and not put too much faith in the binary system that tries to define what is “literary” and “popular” fiction. I want writers to brazenly go out and read anything and everything that catches their eye, so they can then go and write the books that they want to read.

3. I help writers get out of their patterns, take risks with style and content, help them recognize and eradicate their own clichés, stereotypical story lines, and other habits. I encourage writers to find out what makes them unique, and teach them how to embrace it.

4. I write. I take time off regularly, go where nobody will find me, and focus on the one thing I love to do the most. And I advise you to do the same."

When she's not writing and teaching, you'll likely find Sarah taking time out in the wilderness, connecting with nature and reflecting on creative source.

WHAT TO EXPECT

“Do you love this world?

Do you cherish your humble and silky life? 

Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?” 

 

—  Mary Oliver

On this retreat, we will write what we wish we could read, even if we’ve never seen it written before. Our writing will support us by bringing us closer to our true nature — alone and together.

 

Our retreat includes optional morning movement sessions, a nature hike with a local guide, workshops on the philosophies of Inner Landscaping and deep ecology, lessons in foraging and gardening, and artmaking with objects found in nature.  

 

Connecting to the natural world will bring insight to our work in surprising ways. 

 

Prepare to feel open and spacious as you tune into a different state of mind. 

 

We’ll also take a break mid-week to refresh our systems. You can use your free time to enjoy the pool (weather permitting), treat yourself to a massage, visit one of the local villages, galleries or wineries, or simply sip a cappuccino, write postcards, and enjoy the gardens and views.

 

Writing is a solitary activity, but when we can truly connect to nature, we realize that we aren’t separate from it — therefore, we are never really alone.  This is one of the many paradoxes of being a writer. While this may never be resolved, one of the best things we can do to support our writing is to give ourselves time and space to honour this mystery.

That’s why writing on retreat is so special. It initiates the altered state of mind that we’re in when we’re writing, and protects it for a prolonged period of time. That’s when the real magic happens.

MORNING

 

6:00–11:00am: Personal writing time/free time

9:00–10:00am: Movement in the Yoga Barn

7:30–10:00am: Breakfast

11:00am–12:30pm Writing craft sessions with Sarah, and

Workshops with Stuart Hill & Kinchem

 

AFTERNOON

 

12:30–1:30pm: Lunch

2:00–6:00pm: Personal writing time/free time

4:00 - 5:30pm : Optional excursions ‘Deeper into Nature’ 

  • Bush walk with Naturalist

  • Gardening with Farmer Pete

  • Foraging with Jill

  • ‘Making’ with objects found in nature with Penny

  • Massage

 
EVENING

 

6:30–7:30pm: Dinner

7:00–8:00pm: Salon and togetherness

COST

$2,500 non-residential

$3,000 shared room, shared bathroom

$3,500 private room, shared bathroom

$3,900 private room with ensuite

Your retreat package includes:

°   Writing instruction with author Sarah Selecky

°   Gentle yoga and guided meditations

°   7 nights lodging

°   Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner

°   Vegan and vegetarian options

°   Transfer to and from the Bowral train station

°   Excursion to Morton National Park

°   Tour of Springfield grounds 

°   Beautiful classroom studio

°   Concierge office staff

°   On-site laundry

 

***Airfare & transport not included***

*Accommodation includes either a private or shared bedroom within the Hall, or Grass House, or a private room in the Farm House, and is allocated according to availability and your first preference at the time of booking. If you choose to share we’ll pair you with a like-minded roommate, or bring a friend!

*We have two private bedrooms with ensuite bath, if this is your preference please book  early.

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