We postponed this retreat for two years when the unthinkable happened, and the world went into lockdown. It is finally time to open it again, and to open ourselves up to the world again, in turn.
Meet me for a week of deep writing in the heart of Tuscany, to quiet your mind and experience wonder again. This deeply restorative retreat will focus on recovery, delight, pleasure, regeneration, and joy.
We are not the same as we were in 2020. There has been a great reordering. Our lives, our hearts, and our passions have been altered, and in this retreat, we will be honouring these changes with care.
Since the lockdown, I have gone deep in self-study and writing practice. I’ve written a new novel and have a book of creative nonfiction in progress, and both books were informed by what I’ve learned about story structure, nature, somatics, and the flow state.
I have so many new methods and ideas, and I am excited to share them with you!
For instruction and inspiration, we will pay close attention to nature, write with wonder, and connect to each other in conscious ways. We will take deep care of our minds, bodies, and hearts.
Spring is my favourite time to go on retreat, because equal hours of daylight and darkness make our daily routine feel balanced and whole, without effort. Italy is perfect in late April: the wisteria is in bloom, the sun is warm without being too hot, and the trees are alive with songbirds.
It would be an honour to be your guide in this class for writers of all genres.
Fattoria del Colle, where we’ll be staying, is situated on ancient Etruscan land in the countryside, and the history of this place is fascinating. It is also home to the only all-women owned winery in Italy. The energy here makes it excellent for writers who want to find the courage to write the forbidden.
The slow food movement began in Italy, and this philosophy has a lot in common with the way I teach. Slow writing, like slow food, should feel good, clean and fair. Our writing should be nourishing. It should connect us — to ourselves, to the earth, and to each other. Good writing does not alienate or isolate; good stories never make us feel silenced. In our writing, we may question the status quo, offer meaningful reflection, create cultural change, and feel less alone.
On this retreat, we will write what we wish we could read, even if we’ve never seen it written before. Our writing will support us by bringing us closer to our true nature — alone and together.
Our retreat includes a nature hike with a local guide who will introduce us to the secrets of the Tuscan forest. Connecting to nature will bring insight to our work in surprising ways.
Prepare to feel calm and full of wonder, as you slip into the flow state every day.
Magic will happen.
We’ll also take a break mid-week to refresh our systems and enjoy a visit to Montepulciano for the day. You can use your free time here to wander through the old streets, visit museums, go shopping, or simply sip a cappuccino, write postcards, and watch the street life.
Massage can offer profound support on the journey to embodied resilience and creative flow.
I am excited to announce that Annie Bray will be joining us to support you on retreat. Annie works with writers as a somatic coach, and I can personally vouch for her deeply nourishing bodywork.
As a massage therapist and somatic coach, Annie’s sessions move at the speed of trust.*
Annie establishes consent at every step so you feel safe enough to receive her support, on your own terms. She brings warmth, great communication skills and a whole-human approach to massage, striving to create a supportive environment for those who are on the journey of trauma recovery, as well as a welcoming space for ALL bodies to be held with respect and care.
Annie believes that everybody deserves reliable access to a level of safety and relaxation that makes pleasure inevitable.
You can book massages treatments directly through Annie upon arrival. They are not included as part of the tuition.
*hat tip to adrienne maree brown
Here’s what a day on retreat might look like:
2:00–6:00pm: Personal writing time/free time/optional massages
Writing is one of the most challenging things we’ll ever do; it’s also one of the most supreme pleasures in our life. This is one of the many paradoxes of being a writer. While this may never be resolved, one of the best things we can do to support our writing is to nourish ourselves, and give ourselves permission to enjoy the pleasure of it.
When we give ourselves time and space to honour the mystery of our own creative process, we access a deep well of unreleased power and energy.
That’s why writing on retreat is so special. It initiates the altered state of mind that you’re in when you’re writing, and protects it for a prolonged period of time. We can go deep in our writing, and feel deeply connected to who we truly are. That’s why, after we’ve been on a writing retreat, we feel so transformed.
Registration is processed by our retreat partner, Radiant Jane
°Writing instruction with author Sarah Selecky
°Gentle yoga and guided meditations
°6 nights lodging(*)
°Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
°Vegan and vegetarian options
°Group transport to and from the Rome airport
°Excursion to Montepulciano
°Tour of Fattoria grounds and ancient chapel
°Pici pasta making class
°Wellness spa access
°Beautiful classroom studio
°Bicycles to use
°Concierge office staff
***Airfare and massage treatments not included***
Guest rooms are a private bedroom within a two or three-bedroom shared apartment and bathroom. We’ll pair you with a like-minded roommate, or bring a friend!
*Upon request, we may be able to provide a completely private bedroom with ensuite bath for an additional cost.
Canadian writers: you may be eligible for a Canada Council for the Arts grant to help offset the cost of this writing workshop. Please visit the Canada Council website for more information.
“Sarah’s writing classes helped make writing one of my closest friends. Her
expansive spirit leaves room for all styles and personalities. She’s a truly talented teacher, helping guide even the most timid.”
“Thank you for all of the support, advice and guidance. The retreat was incredible! I will keep at it.”
Writer, Sarah Selecky California Writing Retreat 2019
“Everything that Sarah Selecky puts together is the result of much considered thought.”
“Your writing and your teaching has literally changed my writing life.”
“The weekend with Sarah was without exaggeration, a life-saving experience for me ... My writing is stronger, deeper and truer.”
Jo Anne Wilson
“ I arrived at the workshop quite unsure about the level of my writing and what would be expected, but found Sarah’s guidance for the critiques led to super-clear and very helpful discussions about the pieces. I learned from the critiques about other’s writing as well as from the critique about my piece. I left feeling much clearer about how to continue and finish my piece.”
Sarah Selecky earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and her writing has appeared in top Canadian magazines and quarterlies such as The Walrus, The New Quarterly, and The Journey Prize Anthology.
Sarah is the author of This Cake Is for the Party, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, as well as the new novel Radiant Shimmering Light, which has been optioned for a TV show by Muse Entertainment.
She is also the creator of internationally-acclaimed creative writing school (and MFA alternative) Sarah Selecky Writing School, which includes collaborations with Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Karen Joy Fowler, and other authors.
“Sarah is an expert who creates a calm, intentional, and powerful space for writers to drop deeply into their practice in a way that’s expansive and eye-opening. She even manages to make it feel like soul work, while giving writers real and practical tools.”
This is Good and the Victoria Festival of Authors
“Writing and sharing a short story made me more nervous then I care to admit. Sarah does an excellent job of creating a safe space in her classes, offering constructive tips and tricks to start (and finish) stories in an environment that is never intimidating or critical. It is her warmth and the collegial atmosphere she creates that makes her workshops so enjoyable, giving me confidence to go places with my writing that I wouldn't have reached on my own.”
“I've taken a lot of courses, in all sorts of areas, including several other creative writing courses. Some of those courses have made me a more self-conscious writer. Sarah's course is different. It encourages you to pay close attention to what delights and inspires and intrigues you, in your own writing, and in the writing of others. It encourages you to write what you like, how you like. I loved getting feedback on my writing from so many lovely people who were determined to show me my strengths. I loved going in to the online classroom every week.”
“Ask me about a perfect writing coach and I'll tell you about Sarah. A wonderfully insightful and warmhearted mentor, she's coached me towards a healthy, loving relationship with my writing. She's offered invaluable advice on any imaginable writing topic: how to access my creative reservoir, questions on technique, style and aesthetics, how to work around writer's block. She's a revision wizard who provides gentle, yet highly potent editorial feedback.”
“Sarah's writing workshops are the anchor that ensures writing practice in my week. Her classes and exercises provide a rich soil from which to generate material and keep going to the first draft and beyond. The classes are consistently supportive and the people I have met through Sarah's workshops have helped create a necessary writing community.”
“Sarah’s critique and coaching sessions for my short story helped me create new and exciting characters – significantly develop the narrative background – and enrich the plot and themes. The number one lesson I learned from her critique method is to expect and rejoice in the process of revision.”
“It was wonderful working with such a warm, generous and supportive writer. I would recommend Sarah's course to other writer friends without hesitation ... I loved the writing exercises: they really helped focus me, and the writing I produced was much more vivid and interesting. ”