Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Writer's Retreat By Any Other Name Would Be As Sweet

Driftwood Lodge Bed and Breakfast is about twenty minutes west of Smithers, BC. We gathered to connect and to share what it means to be a rural writer. From beginning to end, it was a peaceful,  enlightening and inspiring weekend. Everything a writer could ask for.

You can't tell by the photograph below, but beneath that layer of clouds is the town of Smithers, BC.

The lodge is situated on 114 acres with breathtaking views of Bulkley Valley. It's approximately 340 km northwest of my home in Cluculz Lake. While those of us in Vanderhoof, Cluculz Lake, and Prince George sit on top of the mountains in the Bulkley Nechako and see only hills around us, Smithers is located in the valley and has spectacular views of the Hudson Bay Mountains and Telkwa Range.

Through the front door is an unique inside door that opens to two chairs waiting
a comfortable room...

writers writing

Writers in Residence with an abundance of quiet.
Intimate readings 

captive audience

A workshop on what it means to be a rural writer.

 Using online archives to inspire and instruct

Sarah de Leeuw gave an informative workshop on Writing Yourself Towards North: Exploring Creative Non-Fiction And The Geographies In Which We Live. 
Fifteen exceptionally gifted writers who are now friends.
Many thanks to organizing team: Amanda Follett and Gail Hochachka. Thanks to workshop leaders: Jane Stevenson, Sheila Peters, Ali Howard, and Sarah de Leeuw. And a special thank you to Antoinette Austin for sharing her knowledge and wonder for the Art of Aboriginal Storytelling. Thank you, Birdy and Jennifer. It was a lovely, restful, and inspiring weekend.


  1. It sounds wonderful, and what a gorgeous location for a retreat! I don't think you can compare it to the SiWC because they are so different. The RWiR's unique value might be in its intimacy... much easier to absorb and share within a smaller group. Despite the hundreds that attend SiWC there is an emphasis on approachability and friendliness, but I probably still didn't get to really *know* any more people than you did. One thing in common: coming away rejuvenated and inspired for our writing. :)

  2. You are so right, Carol. And yes, I came away inspired and exhausted from all that creative thinking. LOL. But I'm thrilled I went. Your time sounded wonderful. Hope to see more about it on your blog.

  3. Hi Joylene,
    Ah Smithers. Now what a wonderful location to get them creative thoughts a flowing with all those other gifted writers.
    It seems to me that an inspiring and motivating time was had by all. Friends and writers. Beautiful stuff.
    In peace and kindness, Gary

  4. Joylene, the photos are wonderful. I agree with Carol, what a gorgeous place for a retreat. Nice to know you met some "writer" friends, too. Sounds marvelous!

  5. Hi Gary. Yes, it was a wonderful, peaceful place to meet other like-minded writers. There are so many forms of isolation, but to know that we share a common love of writing makes the world a much smaller place. I think of you over there and it feels just a short distance. Happy writing.

  6. Hi Laura. I thought of you while I was there in that beautiful setting. It reminded me a bit of the Maritimes. Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe.

  7. Hi Joylene, wow breathtaking! I love cottages and log cabins!

    With all these lovely places no wonder you are so productive as a writer

  8. THAT would be appealing to me. Small group(s). Peace & quiet (something I desperately miss these days). Out in the middle of nature. Relaxed atmosphere. I could suffer through all of that. Glad you had such a great & well deserved experience.

  9. Ah, Grandpa, how I love the sound of that. I sleep with one, so I'm very partial to the connotations. LOL. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, as far as I can tell, peace and quiet are NEVER overrated. Cheers.

  10. Hi Dave. You would have enjoyed yourself, and the 3 guys would have appreciated your maleness. I think they felt a bit outnumbered. One even said, "Next year, let's make sure there's more men."

    It was a wonderful experience. I was the only fiction novelist there, but that turned out to be a blessing for me. I was forced to expand my horizons. Even at my age! LOL.

  11. What a fabulous place! It looks so cozy and inviting! And what a wonderful opportunity to meet with these writers!

    Lovely, lovely country!

  12. Thank you, Carol. I went with big expectations and received more. The writers were a timid bunch, and it wasn't until Saturday night's reading that I realized I was surrounded by a quality of writing I haven't witnessed in too long. It was renewing to be among them.

  13. Looks fantastic, Joylene. Of course, I'd think so, having begun writing while living in my log cabin in the middle of nowhere.

    I was surprised to read you were the only novelist among the group. Yes, the men looked quite outnumbered. Maybe if it happens again, you women type can have a scratch and spit night to even the score a bit.

    Thanks for the peek into your retreat.

  14. LOL. Thanks, Keith. I'll make sure I recommend it. One of the last things we discussed on Sunday was where we saw the RWiR in 5 years. I think it's a valuable resource for writers in isolated places. I know I definitely needed to be among writers for a time, even if they weren't fiction writers per se. I came away renewed.

    Thanks for stopping by, Keith.

  15. That fireplace is sweet. It looks like you had a great time. :-)

  16. Hi Fickle. Thanks for visiting. You have a beautiful blog. Happy writing and loving.

  17. I'm taking this link with me to my next writers meeting. This is exactly the kind of thing we need to do in this area. We're in an isolated part of Idaho and something like this would really enhance the experience of writing. Thanks for sharing this, Joylene. Your blog is always so inspiring.

  18. Hi Shane. Yes, the experience of writing can be a lonely place, and the internet is great, but there's nothing like being among writers. I'd forgotten how important it is to fellowship. Hope you can do something similar in your community. It helps to have great organizers like we did for RWiR.

  19. Hi Joylene,
    Thanks for uploading the photos so we could have a look and maybe recapture some of the feeling - I came home afterwards and sent off some poems, finished some others and felt very much reconnected. Writers are great company. See you next year (if not before).

  20. You're very welcomed, Sheila. I had a wonderful time. Having photos has kept me motivated. I'm writing with gusto. Take care. I'm sure we'll run into each other. Hope so.


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