This is a new run at putting together a Writer's Workshop Day or Weekend at the incredible Mohonk Mountain House.
An OS writers' weekend at one of the most beautiful places in America.
What this is:
-- A way for OS writers to get together and have fun
-- An opportunity to grow as a writer in a supportive workshop environment
-- A day or (optionally) two in the magic environment of Mohonk Mountain House
-- A beautiful excuse to have a spa day/gourmet meals/intense outdoor fun
What this isn't
-- Just a workshop weekend: the workshop(s) are optional
-- A training or critical workshop method; rather, this is writers supporting each other's experimental, personal writing within a safe environment
-- A place for flamers or online wars, or anything other than lovingkindness, relaxation, and amazing fun
Once we establish a Group I will proceed (see below). Overnight guests must privately make reservations. If we get enough overnighters who also want more workshops, I will organize a screenwriting workshop and/or memoir workshop as well, for day two (Sunday).
Those who know my writing know I write from personal place. I blossomed as a Writer under Kate Hymes, who has agreed to do one of her elegant, low-key workshops for our main Day Event. I wrote about this experience previously, and re-print that piece at the end.
Hers is not a one-shot technique workshop. It is for those who need safe rules of engagement so they can write without fear, and write anything, in any style, using any Voice. This kind of workshop benefits from but does not require mature writers, who know how to be supportive without judgement on the one hand, or simple Pollyana-esque "encouragement" on the other. So many on OS know already how to do this, to read close and respond positively.
There are no words or images to adequately describe how rare and beautiful Mohonk is. It is a pastiche of castles and chautauqua-style hotel design, 140 years old, perched on a lake, nestled amid cliffs, surrounded by literally thousands of acres of private and state park land. They have a new, state-of-the-art spa and giant indoor pool. They have an enclosed separate ice rink. They have a working barn with private riding and wagon rides available. A golf course, adjacent.
Formal dining and jaw-dropping buffet room. Porches with rocking chairs for every room, even on the 4th, 5th, 6th floors. A beach on the lake, rowboats, fishing, special events every night, Victorian furniture and tiled bathrooms.
Think 5-star Swiss hotel and Adirondack millionaire's private retreat and you start to come close.
I want to retire here. And plan to (ha!). For the extensive arbors and gardens and greenhouse alone, if for nothing else. Recent guest have included the Clintons, Justice Ginzburg, Stephen King, Alan Alda, and Paul Simon.
But it is Mohonk as a writer's paradise that beckons us. 125 old wooden gazebos, dot the acreage, via narrow cliff'd and wide carriage trails. Every hallway has nooks full of books and old board games. They have a library, they have reading rooms. They have High Tea time every day. This is how we thought life would be.
And if we make at least 10 we get not only the discounts but a wood-paneled room, and more.
Kate and I live nearby so we don't need accommodations. My only reward is I get to attend, too; Kate is entiled to a workshop fee, though, from those who choose to particiapte.
I think the way to do this is informally, at least at first. PM or comment here if you are interested, and perhaps suggest times in May, June or July. Saturday is best for the main day.
DON'T reserve there yet; wait, pending our final rates deal.
The workshop is described below. I am also thinking we do a fun thing during the evening, after dinner: drinks & snacks, open mic readings(!) of our OS posts, perhaps a movie with popcorn?
I would love to do this. Hope it catches fire.
New York’s Mohonk Mountain House: Trip on a Deal Ep 45
Uploaded by TriponaDeal. - Exotic and entertaining travel videos.
We had a very good package offer from Mohonk last year for a 1 day event. I will try to get this again or better.
1. Per person cost is $105. This will get us a nice meeting room from 9 to 5, the real Dining Room for Lunch (!), full use of the grounds, High Tea at 3 pm.
If no one wants the room after us (very likely!) we can stick around and shmooze, but can also stay on grounds to hike, read, chat, etc. All tips, gratuities are included.
Spa time, overnight stays, etc are a la carte, and you must arrange on your own.
2. Kate's workshop (see below) fee, highly reduced, is $50 for the day, per person.
3. Thus grand total is $155 per person. If you opt out of the workshop, $105, but you can join us for lunch, tea, and schmooze after. Dinner is NOT icluded in this cost, must be privatey arranged per person
4. I have to make a $250 deposit to hold this. I don't want to do so unless we get 5 confirmed. Based on interest from last year, and new interest, my biggest concern is that we will have so many I will need to line up 1-2 additional workshop leaders, to keep the sizes manageable. A natural limit of 12 is imposed per single Workshop.
5. Mohonk needs a commitment for the number, but will only take the full amount out of my credit card on the event day. I also have 3 days prior to advise them that the number is higher or lower. I will be liable for that final number. Yikes!
6. I am also pursuing having Mohonk take the usage money directly (not Kate's). OtherwiseI need each person who wants to come this year to send me $105, or else rimburse me when they arrive. You can pay the $50 to Kate directly when you arrive. I realize this is "someone taking $ from OS members". What can I say except I am trustworthy and I use my real name here. (Send NO $ at this time!)
If all this passes muster, please comment or PM me? Once i know we have at least 5 I will then provide info on payment address, etc.
If enough people come in the night before, I can arrange to have dinner/hang out. I live very close by. Anyone can also optionally stay over Sturday night thru dinner Sunday as well. You must arrange overnights directly with Mohonk
If you do this, go to website (below) first to see about any specials or discounts for that weekend.
Early AM: arrival, enjoy grounds etc, informal meet and greet in Meeting Room starting at 9 am.
10:00 am: warm-up writing session
1:30 Main Session
3 pm High Tea
3:45 pm Main Session resumes
5:00 Workshop ends
If room not needed we can stay and socialize or hold readings, or go outside or to porches (or bar)
7 dinner (optional, not included)
Feel free to comment, or ask questions in comments, but please confirm formally via PM to me?
Once a week we sit together, and write. There is a method: a free write for a few minutes, to loosen up, shake off the day. We have a prompt, to stimulate us, a point of departure. We write, for about 45 minutes.
We share what we write, or not. There are rules of engagement: we don’t critique raw work, we treat everything as fiction. We respond to the work as writing, not as a finished piece: what moves us, or amuses us, phrases we like, believable characters. What we notice about tone, development, dialog. What stays.
Then we have tea, some conversation over fruit and cheese. Just a short break, then another prompt and more writing.
We meet for about six weeks. Three hours once a week, a half-dozen of us, in a quiet living room in a house with a porch, on one of those lovely side streets in New Paltz. We are supportive but not saccharine. Mature enough to be kind, sharp enough to frame useful comments, young enough to remember, and eager to learn.
We write by lamplight. The essential sound is paper. The prompts are fascinating, banal, droll, sometimes disturbing. Once, the leader, Kate, laid out a hundred small objects: pictures, utensils, toys, tools, the flotsam of Dad’s cigar box, Mom’s top drawer. Often it’s writing: lines of poetry, a prose excerpt, a provocative question. My favorite was a construction we all created in turn, naming two characters, their favorite clothing, place of origin, pet. We use these prompts, or not, and Kate writes with us.
Some of us are new to writing, but most are professionals of some kind: teachers, organizers, administrators, careers that required literacy. I’ve produced copy for 15 years, mostly technical, marketing and small ads. Some short plays. I wanted more. I wanted – want – to be a writer.
I found my voice in Kate’s living room, in the very first workshop. I started with comedy, like my plays, a memory piece. I worried I’d be caught up in my need to amuse, to impress, to show off an uncertain talent. It didn’t happen. From the beginning it was something else. Talent wasn’t beside the point; grammar and syntax mattered but what engaged us was authenticity, economy, a genuine voice. And truth.
I was the only white man, with four women. One, a long-haired former flower child from Northern California, wrote of travel and wanderlust, the melancholy of transit. Writ small, it still evoked a time when we were forever arriving, becoming, rootless. Three ladies had grown up in the south, through segregation, civil rights, and now this perfect, post-Cosby culture of harmony and opportunity. No polemics, no arch, pointed essays. They read aloud their character studies, dialogs, personal memories, set pieces, found moments. They showed history, pain, hilarity, the common beauty of common life in hard times.
From the first night I felt the ground shift under me. I was free. I could sit with pen and paper, and at last write about my grandmother.
Nana grew up in Oklahoma. She was the first in her family to graduate high school, to get a teaching degree. She taught in the Reservation schools for a few years, went on to Kansas City to raise my mother, alone, through the Depression and the war. She rose in the KC municipal bureaucracy, had a career, and instilled in me, with infinite kindness and by example, a love of books. And she was black, a fact she and her own mother denied until late in life.
It was just a fact, never discussed in our family. Sitting and listening to the details of southern lives, well-described, I heard Nana’s voice. I remembered her stories, of red wolf hunts in the Ouachita mountains, drunk cowboys, prairie schooners. I told simple stories, reclaimed her history, and fulfilled her legacy: I learned to write.
New York City 90 minutes south of NewPaltz.
Star is Mohonk (15 mins out of town).
OK: these (GREEN) are the possible Saturdays. Please PM me with a ranking. For example:
1. June 26 (Best)
2. July 10
3. June 19 (maybe)
4. July 17 (not possible)
Let me reiterate: the costs described above are for a DAY EVENT. They include LUNCH and TEA. ALL other arrangement s for staying over, dinner that night, etc must be made individually.
We have local options (fellow OSrs and other possibilities) for free/more affordable sleepovers. Again, PM me.