Writers’ Retreat: Spring Thaw

I just spent a lovely, productive weekend at Spring Thaw, a retreat organized and facilitated by Ruth E. Walker and Gwyn Scheltema of Writescape.

The Venue: Elmhirst Resort on Rice Lake near Keene, Ontario. http://elmhirst.ca, a comfortable old resort complete with separate cottages, a salt-water pool, a work-out room and a masseuse with “magic fingers”( so I am reliably informed}

We had two dinners and a fabulous brunch, the latter worth the drive. Elmhirst has a deserved reputation for its expansive dessert table.

Ruth and Gwynn generously catered the rest of our meals in their cottage where the conversation ranged from the progress of the writing, to the business of publishing to the merits of George Clooney as an actor.

They gave us unfettered time to write and think and walk, talk if we chose, to other writers, or silence to listen to the lake and the birds.

Each of them blue-pencilled ten pages of work for each of us and one-on-one, invaluable sessions that combined encouragement and critique.

The other writers: a range from the never-published to the soon-to-be published to those making a living by their pen. The most extraordinary voices emerged from unexpected people.

This was my second retreat with Ruth and Gwynn. It won’t be my last.

Writers’ Retreat/Turning Leaves

i spent the weekend at a writers’ retreat—Turning Leaves—at the Fern Resort on beautiful Lake Couchiching. Writescape, a joint enterprise of Ruth E. Walker and Gwynn Scheltema who produced the event and taught. http://writescape.ca/writescape/

The resort itself is old, turn of the nineteenth century old, but with modern amenities, at least in the section we inhabited. The spacious room assigned to me overlooked the long breakwater out into the lake, and the ducks and geese that lived within the calm waters. It faced west, with glorious sunsets.

I have stayed in resorts that promised a fireplace in every room, only to be disappointed by the ersatz fire with its electrically-produced flames. Not this time. A genuine log-burning fireplace, with supplied artificial(and therefore easily started) logs.

Otherwise—clean, comfortable, spacious. My only quibble concerned the lack of electrical outlets for my various electronic devices. I solved that one by unplugging the clock, substituting my phone. It has a reliable alarm clock!

We met in the same building which provided a boardroom and a spacious living room(yet another fireplace), supplied with coffee, tea, juices, snacks, comfortable chairs and good lighting.

The package included three meals a day which were delicious and generous. My only complaint would be that the distance from the kitchen to our small dining room meant some dishes arrived, not cool but not hot either.

Poet and author Jonathan Bennett filled in at last minute for a scheduled guest speaker Barry Dempster. He spoke on point of view, a subject I find very interesting as was the discussion that followed. He also read some of his own work, including his award-winning poetry and answered questions about the writing life.

What else—free writing time, lots of it; workshops which we could attend, or not; discussions at meal times with other writers; the privilege of talking with Gwynn and Ruth.

Writescape. What a resource for writers.