Category Archives: Retreats

Re-charge. Re-purpose. Re-dux.

Feed your creativity in Montana at one of my upcoming Haven Writing Retreats
August 7th-11th (Now Booking)
September 4th-8th (Now Booking)
September 18th-22nd (Now Booking)

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Retreat in New York City!

I’m sitting in my bed this fine rainy May Sunday morning in Montana, listening to the robins cheer-cheer-cheerio the way they do when their eggs are about to hatch. A loon just did a drive by and let us all know it, on its way from Beaver Lake where they nest, to Spencer Lake where they hang out in the morning. It’s late for the loons. 8:46 am. Usually they are 6:00 on the dot. Maybe Sundays are casual in the way of loons too.

I got back late last night from a week in New York City.
vendorAnd I feel like I just got shot out of a cannon and finally landed in a soft field. I’m going to lie in that field today. Work on my novel. Drink tea. Process. I have a friend who has a big job in NYC and whenever I call him, he answers, “What’s up? I’ve got two seconds. I’m drinking from the fire hose.” Or “Bullet point it, baby. My hair’s on fire.” I’m usually in pjs in my office in Montana, sitting in stone silence but for birds and the sound of mice in the walls, and I try to pretend I can understand what he’s talking about. I want to be that charged and alive and pressured and important and in demand. Well, I tell myself that anyway. For a few minutes, I try it on for size. It would look like this:

Agent: Laura, where’s the novel you’ve been working on for the last year? You gotta keep the momentum up.
Editor: Laura, tick tock. Time’s a-wasting. Your fans are getting antsy.
Social Media guru: Laura, you need to build your Google Plus, chime in at Linkedin, enter the Twittersphere and respond to your mentions, re-tweet, Instagram your weekend, like your friends status updates on Facebook…
Speaking agent– Laura, what’s your brand? You need a brand. What are you an expert in? You gotta be an expert in something if I’m going to book you. I think I can get you on a six city tour but you need a brand.
Mother– Laura, you know television adds another ten pounds onto you. I hear Dr. Oz has a great diet you can upload on the internet.
Children– Mom, the SATs are tomorrow and prom is next week, and I need number two pencils and black strappy sandals.

A back yard in NYC is a bit different than a back yard in Montana!

A back yard in NYC is a bit different than a back yard in Montana!

But that’s not really the portrait of my life these days. Believe me, it was for a few years!  But things have calmed down, thank God.  No one’s really asking me for much. My kids are so suddenly independent, though I still make them their school lunches and foot the big bills. But it’s nothing like it was before when their lives required me as the master puppeteer. My career has momentum and mostly requires me sitting in my quiet Montana office, doing what I love to do, and that’s write. Novels. Personal essays for magazines. The occasional stab at a short story. And leading writing retreats ten minutes down the road. Walking in the woods for exercise. Eating meals with my kids when they’re not in the trenches of social life, sporting events, school functions. After years of hard-core pressure in every facet of my life, I’m now sort of the pilot of my drive-by. And like the loons, I’ve let myself be a little loungy on Sunday mornings. It’s a lot like being pregnant, these days. I’m going slow. In creation mode. I’ve had to. You can’t go like that year after year, drinking from the fire-hose, hair on fire…without paying the consequences. And those consequences mean half-hearted prose, half-hearted mothering, half-hearted life. Unlike most professions, mine is totally self-propelled. I don’t have a boss. I don’t have colleagues that I run into at the water cooler. I don’t have employees that I meet with in board rooms. For the most part, it’s me sitting here asking myself: what can I create? And last week the answer was: a week in New York City.stoop

It grew out of winter duldrums and an online introduction to the work of the author and blogger Aidan Donnelley Rowley. She leads a salon in her Upper West Side home called The Happier Hour where she profiles different authors and invites friends to sit informally in her gorgeous squash blossom yellow living room, indulge in wine and finger food and conversation. When she asked me to be the spotlighted author, I knew I had to go. Because here’s what Aidan is up to: she’s creating community. My community consists of my small town in Montana which, since I hole up and write most of the time, can feel a little lonely. My fault, entirely as there’s so much to do here. But I find that my appetite for social life tends to happen when I’m in travelling mode, not writing mode. I long for a room full of city people who live in the throb of humanity and are quick with opinions, questions, challenges that come from the daily cutting of teeth on asphalt. Asphalt filled with any number of things they see and filter– homeless people, lovers, street performers, street fights, sirens, bike messengers, horse and buggies, cops packing guns, doormen, honking cabs.  ball The human heart is the same everywhere, but city people seem to linger less in the field of lengthy conversation; pause less to look around or to notice the “loon.” If they didn’t, their heads would explode.  They live in a constant drum beat, percussion under their feet, foul smells, exotic aromas, cupcake and macaroon and pizza and bagel and coffee options on every street corner. They need their filters.  It’s survival.  So I was ready to go to NYC and don the filters I usually don which allow me to navigate all that throb.

I’m not very good at filters.  I consider myself a pro-noticer.  I stop and notice stuff all day long.  You don’t get called a rubber-necker in Montana.  For the most part in my life, there’s no one there to notice me noticing, so it’s all good.  It usually takes me about 24 hours to filter out the pro-noticing when I’m in the city.  So for 24 hours, I’m always sort of a wreck, especially when I’m in New York City. But a wreck I cherish and long for every spring when Montana wakes up and me along with it.  And a Broadway show, dinner at fabulous restaurants, jaunts to indie bookstores, and meetings with movers and shakers and publishing world decision makers…it’s all so electric.

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My editor’s office at Penguin

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The hallowed halls of the Met

But it was funny this last week in New York.  The filters never came.  They were never needed.  I stayed in Montana mode.   I spent a blissful afternoon at the Met with my friend the fantastic artist Nigel Van Wiek, looking at his favorite paintings, strolling through the collection learning about light and color and painter’s plights.
I had meetings with my excellent star of an editor at Putnam, Amy Einhorn, and chatted shop (publishing houses look like a dorm full of English Majors during exam week, in case you were wondering), dropped by Hearst and went up to the 36th floor which in the magazine world means one thing:  O.  (fingers crossed!), met with online bastions like the wonderful crew at Blogher…and on and on.  I stayed at the Mercer Hotel in Soho and held meetings in their lobby  for one solid day.  I met with my friend who is a 9/11 widow and she generously took me to the memorial which I’d been too scared to see.  Blog post about this deeply profound experience to come…and still…I had no filters.  Even then.  I just took it all in.  And my head did not explode.

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Happier Hour

And then there was Aidan’s Happier Hour, which was a night of sharing about the things I care about most in the way of putting heart and mind to craft, and that’s creativity, self-expression, emotional freedom.  These lovely people wanted to TALK about it all, and we had a powerful powerful evening.  Even Jesse Kornbluth, esq.  (Head Butler) thought so.  (phew…)  Aidan’s account of the evening is also glowing.  As my father used to say, “Takes one to know one.”  My final night, I was lying in my hotel room revving up to meet my producer friend who has HUGE energy, and it occurred to me that the only thing missing in my week of NYC re-dux was a Broadway play.  And do you know that with one phone call, she served up two tickets to the glittery fabulousness of Kinky Boots! kinky One stunner after the next.  No filters necessary.

And somehow, I came out alive, with more inspiration than I’ve had in years, (mountain majesty not included).  I was lit up for a week. And now I’m fried. A spent bulb. The kind you shake and hear that little jangle and know it’s done. I’m back home, in my bed, writing, listening to loons, ready for lilac-time, baby robins , and the quiet of my life under the Big Sky. Thank you, New York and all of you generous, spirited souls!!!

aidan

With author/blogger/Happier Hour host Aidan Donnelley Rowley

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Haven Retreats and “This Is Not The Story You Think It Is” have a trip to the city!

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Filed under "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear", City Hits, My Posts, Retreats

Haven from Home

Even when you live in the wilds of Montana, life is life, and life is busy. So what might be one person’s creative haven, could very well be another’s Grand Central Station. To that end, during this time of my Long Ago: Community series, I have sought haven at a little cabin up near the Canadian border. No heat. No running water. No electricity. No cell phone service. Outhouse. Mountain Lion paw prints on the porch upon arrival. Hip high snow. Miles from a neighbor this time of year.

I thought I’d give my readers some visuals. This is what happens when you realize you bet wrong on how much drinking water you needed. Enjoy!
yrs.
Laura

Snow tete a tete

Wok fried snow

Snuggled snow by the wood stove

“There are certainly times when my own everyday life seems to retreat so the life of the story can take me over. That is why a writer often needs space and time, so that he or she can abandon ordinary life and “live” with the characters.”

–Margaret Mahy

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Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, Haven Newsletter, My Posts, Retreats

Montana Writing Retreat Registration is Open!

 

Glacier National Park

Montana Writing Retreat

 

With New York Times and international
best-selling author…
Laura Munson

September 26-30, 2012 (sold out)

September 19-23 2012 (still some spots left…)

I will be leading regular retreats in Montana in 2013, however at a higher cost, so this is a special offer.  I have a lot of interested people and so if you want to come, act fast!

I have called Whitefish, Montana home for twenty years.  I have written books here, mothered here, and wandered around in this deep wilderness on foot, horse, skis, kayak, canoe, river-raft, dogsled etc.  Montana has been my best teacher, especially for my writing, and I want to share it with you.  Like no other place I’ve been, Montana gets under your skin and stays there even when you are far away.  Its terrain, sometimes rugged and daunting, sometimes soft and beckoning, sometimes just plain heartbreaking…is that of the written word. 

What We Will Do:

Days:

We will spend three days in intensive small group sessions exploring craft and voice through various writing exercises, one-on-one workshop sessions with Laura, and private writing time.  There will also be opportunities to do yoga, go on guided silent meditation walks on the gorgeous 400 + acres of the Walking Lightly Ranch, and take equine therapy classes nearby.

Evenings:

Evenings will include student and instructor readings, visits from guest writers to share about the writing life, and fantastic meals overlooking the beauty of the woods of Montana.

Food:  All food is vegan, largely grown on property or locally grown, and lovingly prepared on-site by skilled chefs.  *We can accommodate special dietary needs.  And yes, coffee and wine are permitted (favorite question so far) !

Accommodations:  Each person will have a private room in the main lodge or in the guest lodge.  Each has a private full bathroom.

Cost:  The cost is $1,800 which will cover the conference, three daily meals including dinner on the night of arrival and breakfast on the day of departure, rooms, and sponsored evening wine hour.  This price does not include transportation.  

Application:  My retreats are limited to ten participants to ensure proper attention to your work, and are open to all ranges of writers, whether you are in the process of writing a book, have a book idea, or just love to write and want to explore self-expression on the page.  I do have an informal application process which helps to set your intention about why you want to join me on the retreat, and helps me to know what you hope to gain from it.  Simply send a statement of purpose, as well as a writing sample (no longer than 1200 words) to laura@lauramunsonauthor.com.  In your statement of purpose, please tell me about your goals for this workshop and for your writing life, and provide me with any other information about yourself that you feel is important.

Where We Are Located: 

Set in the northwest corner of Montana, The Flathead Valley, is my favorite part of the state– with Glacier National Park just 20 miles away, the 30 mile long mountain-flanked Flathead Lake at its base, and our Whitefish ski
resort at its top.  This is the still-pristine land of lakes, rivers, foothills and Rocky Mountains, charming little towns, and most important:  open space.  I know of no place like it left in the lower 48.  You might want to consider coming early and/or staying after the retreat to experience the magnificent Flathead Valley and explore.

The Walking Lightly Ranch is a ten minute drive from Whitefish, set deep in the woods on a lovely lake, with an organic garden, gorgeous yoga pavilion, and walking paths throughout.  It is a place of serenity and inspiration truly unique in our busy world.

Getting Here:  Flights: Delta, United, Alaska, American, and Allegiant go in and out of Glacier International Airport in Kalispell, with non-stops from San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Las Vegas, and
Minneapolis.  You might find cheaper flights in and out of Missoula (2 1/2 hour drive), Spokane (4 hr. drive), or Calgary (5 hr. drive).  Rental cars are available at the airport.  Taxis run $40.00 each way to the ranch.  Train:
Amtrak goes in and out of Whitefish.

For more information about my writing and my retreats, go to my website.    

Montana and I await your spirit and words…          

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Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My Posts, Retreats