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Been There, Done That – August 2018

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In our "Been There, Done That" series, Literary Mama editors and readers share their experiences at conferences, workshops, classes, and residencies. This month Kim Ruff recalls her time at Squam Art Workshops.


What program did you attend?

Squam Art Workshops

Where was it and what was the time requirement?

It was held at Squam Lake in New Hampshire from Wednesday-Sunday.

What were the course offerings? 

They offered a variety of writing courses, art classes, yoga instruction, and photography.  They also offer food classes, knitting, jewelry making, and other courses.

How did you spend your time? 

I spent a small amount of time by myself, taking in the breathtaking landscape of Squam Lake and the rest of my time socializing, smiling, and a lot of other times laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. I only knew one person going into Squam, but I made many friends while I was there and have enjoyed watching our journey as creatives since our time at Squam.

What did you take away from the experience?

I felt emboldened and aware. Emboldened in the sense of letting loose creatively. I felt free to create and make mistakes without expectation or self-pressure of perfection. For one, I knew I wasn't being judged and another reason is the "space" provided to each and every artist at Squam afforded the opportunity for creative trial and error. I dabbled in poetry and mixed-media art, which are activities I had never felt confident with before, but I did it anyway because it was fun and I had tons of support from the instructor and all of the other artists there. Additionally, I felt more aware than I had in a long time. My senses were heightened and I was certainly living in the moment while I was there, aware of each and every sound and the smiles and laughter and stories of the women around me. The friendships made that week were with kindred spirits.

Did you have the opportunity for a writing critique? Was it helpful? 

The instructors outline what to expect in each class and what would be helpful to bring with you. In some classes I wrote from scratch, especially in the poetry class, but for the others, I brought pieces that I had been working on and received feedback on those stories, not just from the class instructor, but also from other writers who attended. All of the feedback I received was extremely helpful.

Would you attend this event again? 

I would attend again. There is something for everyone at Squam and the surrounding landscape is the perfect backdrop for this type of event.

Share some helpful tips for a writer considering this experience. (Tips may include transportation, lodging, food, classes/instructors, or anything you think future attendees would benefit from knowing.)

The number one tip is to come with an open mind and be ready to open yourself up to new possibilities. Even if you don't know a soul going into the retreat, you will have made a ton of new friends by the time you leave. The men and women who attend Squam will become a whole new community of creative supporters that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else. My recommendation, if at all possible, is to drive to Squam and make a road trip out of it. I drove from Philadelphia, PA and stopped at many sites along the way, to include the Beinecke Library on Yale's campus, the Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Ct, and I stopped at one of Guy Fieri's diner recommendations for lunch - O'Rourke's diner in Middletown, CT. Each of these stops were on the way and did not divert my trip by a huge amount of time.

Have you attended a conference, workshop, residency, or class? We'd like to hear about your experience. Email us at lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com.

The Literary Mama Blog Editor searches for mama-centric news you can use — including information about publishing opportunities and literacy efforts; essays and writing prompts that motivate and inspire; and announcements about events, classes, and workshops. The current blog editor is Rudri Patel; read her bio here.

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