I reluctantly joined the writers workshop, as I am not a writer or author. I was afraid and worried, however, once I arrived at Castle Hill and met the authors, and other participants, I immediately felt at ease and was truly encouraged and comforted by all whom participated. Because of the most kind, supportive and nurturing environment, as well as the gorgeous surroundings, the Castle Hill Retreat, started me on my writing interest. Last month’s writing workshop encouraged, enlightened, and supported me in multiple ways to embark on a new path to write and get published. This writers retreat will introduce you to the best authors in a very candid and comfortable way, while they encourage and provoke all new and old writers to excel.
Thank you again for all of the help and encouragement! I feel nice and juiced up for future writing projects. This weekend definitely helped ease my anxiety about words and the writing process. It was a very encouraging group, and you’re an awesome teacher.
I loved everything about this weekend. It was an incredible experience. I so enjoyed being with such a fabulous group of woman – in such an extraordinary setting. Your care for us and hospitality was truly papable. It was this lovely thread that wove the weekend together.
As a participant of the inaugural launch of the Readers and Writers Retreat at Castle Hill, I was absolutely thrilled with the quality of the authors and their candid, spontaneous conversations with our lovely and diverse group. Because each author spoke in a different setting on the estate every day, I felt a unique intimacy during each session with them. The organizers were very wise to limit the number of participants so that they could be up close and personal with each author. I went away dreaming that I had had John Grisham, Jan Karon, Donna Lucy and Sissy Spacek, and others over to my exquisite house in the country for a personal conversation during a beautifully arranged lunch, dinner or afternoon tea! Now I want to experience the Castle Hill writers retreat at the end of June! Strongly recommend everyone make these retreats part of your annual getaway plans.
It took me two years to create a piece about my last visit with a dear friend who was dying. I had written it over and over again in my head but simply could not put it down on paper. The writer’s workshop at Castle Hill offered me an extraordinarily peaceful ambiance coupled with highly professional writing support to write and edit a most personal essay. Because I have so many other stories to share, I now have a a true haven that fosters individual creativity as well as one where other writers share their stories. I can’t wait for the next retreat!
The Castle Hill’s Writer’s Retreat of September 2013 was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. When I first heard about the retreat from leaders Donna Lucey and Henry Wiencek in July, my instinct immediately told me that I had to be a part of it. It was like a spiritual magnet. And my instinct was right.
It consisted of a group of people who, without hesitation, checked their egos at the door. Everybody was on the same playing field. Everybody was an artist. It was an exercise in self expression instantly surrounded by love and support. Our leaders, Donna and Henry, instilled a gentle confidence in all of us, giving us wonderful assignments to steer us in the right direction, and then letting us take off on our own. The writing produced in those two days was stunning. Laughter, poignancy, crying. Who could ask for more than to feel life? What a great group.
The atmosphere of support and sharing was nothing but enhanced by the elegance and balance of Castle Hill. The house is a lovingly and exquisitely restored cocoon of beauty on every level, from perfect architectural detail to rich colors and hues and shapes of furnishings, to breathtaking terraced gardens, to our kind and creative hostess, Stewart, who indulges her guests in sensual comfort and sustenance that can do nothing but get the creative juices flowing. Not to be omitted are the culinary skills of our host, Hummer, who made us nourishing and healthy and colorful and delicious food that was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat. Last but not least, a cheerful, playful little sprite with a bushy tail, butterfly ears and soft little round ball added happiness and joy to an already joyful experience.
In my opinion, this retreat is a must-do for anybody who likes to write, but also for those who think they don’t!
The Castle Hill retreat was a wonderful way to re-discover my writing voice, stimulated by the historic and beautiful setting, guided by great teachers, and inspired by my fellow participants.
I was brought to the workshop kicking and moaning that I didn’t want to come. I left the workshop kicking and moaning because I didn’t want to leave. Thank you for giving the members of the workshop the wonderful gift of time and place. Time to put thoughts together. And, a beautiful place in which to write those thoughts. It was an edifying and educational weekend.
I had butterflies in my stomach as I made my way up the mile-long (STINKIN’ GORGEOUS) driveway to my first day of the workshop… But you know what? I went on to spend a weekend with some of the most welcoming, brave, kind, brilliant and down-to-earth folks I’ve met in some time. It was a face full of fresh air to live life with these peeps for a weekend. Instead of making fun of me for being young, they actually valued my opinion on what I thought of one man’s (incredibly poignant) essay on being in the lottery-style draft for Vietnam. I was scared for nothing. These people actually thought I was a good writer, too…
While we ate, our ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE (inspiring, hard-working, funny…I could go on…) workshop facilitators filled us in on the history of the home, the grounds, the gardens, etc. Because, you know, they’d written books about it, DUH. I kept needing to pinch myself. I was sitting in a home so rich with history and artists and legends and romances and ghosts (yes, ghosts!), and I was actually allowed to be there. I told my mom it felt like going into the White House, except someone pulled back those velvet herding guides and let me hang out wherever I wanted…
I could go on and on and on (y’all are like, you already have…), so I’ll end with this: you don’t need to be a “writer” to come to these retreats. You just need to want to write, have a story to tell, and have a will to write it. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I got over my fears and kept chugging up the driveway when my heart was pounding on the first morning… read the entire blog post here.
-Brett Batten Baker
I had never attended a writer’s retreat before, and I signed up with trepidation. I shouldn’t have worried. The setting couldn’t have been more inspiring and the instructors couldn’t have been more helpful. With their support and the support of a sensitive, diverse, and talented group, we all opened up to the process, the pain, and the satisfaction of committing words to a blank page. I want more!
The Castle Hill Writer’s Retreat is worthwhile for anyone that wants to write, thinks they might like to write, or just has a story inside them they want to get out. The setting is spectacular, quiet and a world away from what most of us experience every day – it’s the perfect place to slow down and gather your thoughts. Stewart and Ray Humiston – the hosts and owners of Castle Hill – couldn’t be more gracious and eager to have you enjoy their home and it’s historic setting. The writing coaches are relaxed and able to speak with each participant on an individualized level that is encouraging and thought-provoking. And the variety of participants and their writing experience makes for a very rich stew of ideas and perspectives. Don’t think too much about it. Go. And go with an open mind and an eagerness to explore your own thoughts. You won’t be disappointed!