I want to write like Anne Truitt sculpted.


"I have settled into the most comfortable routine I have ever known in my working life. I wake very early and, after a quiet period, have my breakfast in my room: cereal, fruit, nuts, the remainder of my luncheon Thermos of milk, and coffee. Then I write in my notebook in bed. By this time, the sun is well up and the pine trees waft delicious smells into my room. My whole body sings with the knowledge that nothing is expected of me except what I expect of myself. I dress, do my few room chores, walk to the mansion to pick up my lunch box (a sandwich, double fruit, double salad -- often a whole head of new lettuce) and Thermos of milk, and walk down the winding road to my Stone South Studio. At noon, I stop working, walk up through the meadow to West House, have a reading lunch at my desk, and nap. By 2:30 or so I am back in the studio. Late in the afternoon, I return to my room, have a hot bath and dress for dinner. It is heavenly to work until I am tired, knowing that the evening will be effortless. dinner is a peaceful pleasure. Afterward I usually return to my solitude, happy to have been in good company, happy to leave it. I read, or write letters, have another hot bath in the semidarkeness of my room, and sink quietly to sleep."

— Anne Truitt, from Daybook: The Journal of an Artist


When I read this description of Anne Truitt's experience at Yaddo, my body melts. I feel dizzy with longing.

Anne Truitt was an American artist known for her minimalist sculptures: tall columns, quite large, painted thickly in rich colours. Truitt was working at Yaddo for the months of July and August, 1974. This passage was written two months before I was born. I've read this passage of her book so many times, the page is softened and creased from all of the attention.

I want it. I want what she describes.

I read those two paragraphs out loud to Ryan last week. At the last sentence, I put the book down with a blissful look on my face, feeling, as I often do after reading it, as though I'd just eaten a delicious piece of dark chocolate.

He looked at me and said, "That sounds good to you, huh?"

When I read my forecast for this lunar year -- the Year of the Fire Monkey — this was the advice for tigers: Retreat. Stay inside. Be quiet. Only inner adventures, please. As it turns out, I'm craving time and space to go away and write, anyway. I'm quite happy that the astrological conditions appear to be perfect for this. Last year, I spent a month in Spain with three other writers. It was divine, and I wrote a third of my novel there. Now I'm planning, applying, and wishing for some writing retreat opportunities in 2016.

I love going away to write.

I try to do it at least once every year: I crave undistracted writing time, with limited internet access. Because you're one of my readers, I assume that you also feel a longing to go away somewhere, just to write. To have an uncluttered routine in which you can reflect, go for walks, focus on your creative work, eat simple, nourishing meals, and meet colleagues for a bit of light company, before you go back to your writing.


Which got me thinking: you might want to start planning, applying and making some wishes, too.

Over the next few posts, I will be sharing links to a few excellent writing workshops, retreats and residencies that I know about. Do you know any good ones? Please let me know about them.

Meanwhile, this is fun: The AWP Conference is from March 30 - April 2.

If you're in the Los Angeles area, consider coming to check it out. I'm going to be there with a couple of our teachers from The Story Intensive and The Story Workshop, to take in some of the readings and discussion panels (and all of the sunshine). We'd love to see you! Leave me a comment or send me a note if you're planning to be there.

You might also be interested in the CCWWP Writers' Summit happening in Toronto this June. This is kind of like the AWP conference, but smaller, cozier and more Canadian, with extra attention given to the academic realm of creative writing.

That's all for now! Meet me back here in a few weeks for the first of a series of posts all about Going Away to Write.


Sarah Selecky

Photo credit (top): Anne Truitt on Instagram.

How to do a self-directed writing workshop. Part 2/2
Writing Retreats for Your Wish List (Part 1)


Timothy Fowler

Sarah: In a month and a day I head to Iceland for the annual writers workshop there with Cheryl Strayed, Vincent Lam, and Mark Kurlansky. These accomplished writers are 'my' faculty. There are others. There is time to write, time to learn, time to explore. In late September I participating in and presenting at the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop. More learning. More writing. There is wine, and time. In the middle of the summer I will set up a large tent on my half section of prairie grass in Saskatchewan. And write. Best regards, Timothy
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I want to do this, but for now I have started asking friends with quiet houses if I can come retreat to their place. Just did my first overnight and am grateful.
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Judy Purcell

Oh! Sarah! You long to write and I long to read your books!
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Hi Sarah! Actually the Writers' Summit in Toronto this June isn't just CCWWP but also the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers' Union, the Creative Non-Fiction Collective and a crazy amount of other organizations, all under one roof! Should be pretty huge! Here's the link: http://www.canadianwriterssummit.com
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Kala Pierson

Sarah, this post was so valuable for me to read. I was also transfixed by that part of Daybook when I read it as a teenager. I'm working on looking forward to good things right now, at a dark and uncertain time for artists in my country (I'm American). A big part of that has been looking forward to my residencies next year. Feeling your wonder at Truitt's experience, and remembering my own wonder when I read about it as an undergrad in a very male-dominated field, is very healing.
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