We are going to highlight some wonderful writer’s conferences throughout the country. First up is Susan Pohlman and her inspirational workshop Writer Travel Santa Fe taking place September 25 – September 30, 2018. The retreat is held at the 200-year-old El Paradero Bed and Breakfast Inn in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Tell us about Susan Pohlman
I am a freelance writer, editor, writing coach, and workshop/retreat leader based in Phoenix, AZ. In general, I love all things literary! I began my career in education and school administration, but, a few years ago, I decided to pursue writing full time.
Naturally drawn to memoir and personal essay, I have published in both short and long form. My first book, Halfway to Each Other, was the winner of the Relationships category and runner-up in the Memoir category in the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Inspy Awards. Some personal essays have been published in a variety of print and online journals and magazines.
I am also a film enthusiast and love the challenge of writing for screen. Over the years, I have written six short films for the Baltimore 48 Hour Film Project. The Misadventures of Matilda Mench won best screenplay in the 2010 and the 2010 CINE Golden Eagle Award for best Independent Fiction Short. The Pen won best screenplay in the 2011.
What inspired you to be a writer?
My writing journey is a long one. Like many writers, I was obsessed with books as a child. I loved reading but never viewed myself as a writer until my early thirties when I began to pen personal essays. As a young mother (pre-blog era), balancing work and family, I needed an emotional outlet! After a few publishing credits, I was hooked.
When I moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s, I became intrigued by the art of screenwriting and began to study craft in earnest. Screenwriting is a great way to learn story structure, dialogue, and imagery. From there I branched out to memoir and am now trying my hand at fiction.
Tell me about your conference and how this all began for you?
Because of my teaching background, I have had a lot of experience hosting retreats.
I love creating retreat experiences that develop sacred space for writers and seekers. It is vital for writers to gather, study craft, and share the ups-and-downs of the writing journey— a relief to let down our guards, embrace our imperfections, and exhale. Concentrated time spent with our writer tribe cultivates new friendships and connections that provide emotional support in our often-solitary endeavors. Let’s face it, writing can be lonely at times.
Travel offers unique opportunities to refresh and jumpstart the creative process. When we venture beyond the boundaries of our everyday lives and slip out of our cultural constraints, we find ourselves opening to possibility and nurturing the artist within. Inspiration blooms when we experience new cultures, landscapes, colors, textures, foods, and flavors. A journey feeds the soul and provides the room for our creative energies to churn and bubble to the surface. I watch the magic unfold every time!
How many writers can attend and approximate costs?
The retreat is held at the El Paradero Bed and Breakfast Inn. It is a 200-year-old farmhouse in the historic district of Santa Fe. Well-appointed and cozy, it is an ideal gathering place; and the owner is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts. I like to limit the number of attendees to fifteen to ensure an intimate experience.
The program fee is $1095.00 (I am offering $100.00 off for members of IAN!) which includes three hours of instruction every morning, breakfast, snacks, some dinners, and excursions. Travel and accommodation costs are not included.
What can writers expect? Any fun events besides writing?
Though specifics can be found on the website (www.writertravelsantafe.weebly.com), this retreat offers:
- Time to nurture yourself and your craft. This week is all about you and what you need to be your best creative self!
- Lots of rest to recharge your battery.
- Craft development classes every morning.
- Afternoons to write, nap and/or enjoy the creative energy of Santa Fe.
- Evening sharing sessions. (No critiques!) Our goal is to share and enjoy each other’s company and literary voice on the page.
- One full day of excursions into the surrounding badlands of New Mexico—Georgia O’Keeffe country.
What do you hope writers get from the conference?
The curriculum for this retreat concentrates on developing voice and understanding the many facets that create a writer’s style. The subject matter is accessible to writers of all levels of experience and genres, even those who are just curious about writing.
The term “voice” is confusing as it refers to a number of things. A broad definition is that
voice is the way you project yourself artistically. It is the expression of you on the page: your humor, your use of language, your unique view of the world. It is that elusive element that makes your writing pop.
Voice is not something you can force, but it is something you can cultivate. Taking the time to focus on it is time well spent. Examining the work of others, studying differences in tone, style, diction, and syntax will enhance and deepen your own work. It will give you’re the tools to make artistic choices for specific results rather than simply writing by the seat of your pants and hoping it all turns out splendidly!
Every writer has a natural voice, but it takes time, courage, and study to refine it. When you link your natural voice—the writing that springs from your deepest truth— to an understanding of craft, you can take readers on a journey they will never forget.
Aside from writing, we have a lot fun!
Anything else you want about you or the conference. I am an open book here!
I am the founder and administrator of the Phoenix Writers Network, a community of writers who meet bi-monthly to develop relationships through the exchange of knowledge about the writing life, craft, and publishing. If you live in the Phoenix area, come join us!