“I have never been pampered and treated so well. Bravo HillHouse Writers! You guys have figured out the perfect formula. Equal parts support and leave you alone. I’ll be booking a stay next year.”

DF Paloma CA

 “Ron is masterful in his knowledge of the subject matter and I love his passion for the writing. Most of all, I appreciate his openness to being in the flow.”

JB Portland OR

 “I appreciated the quick access to all kinds of support material, but the instructors were able to keep themselves out of the spotlight most of the time.”

JB BIllings MT

 “I am re-energized to start writing regularly to help my craft.”

AW London GB

Home School

Sometime during my stay at HillHouse, Karen told me she had home schooled her now grown children. Her oldest son, and amazing chef, Justin, had told me the same thing on the trip from the airport to the farm. Before I actually met her, I couldn’t help it: this conjured up an image of some sort of ultra control freak mom.

Nothing could be further from Karen’s personality or her style of mentoring writers. She explained to me that she wanted to home school her kids because she felt there were so many things built into traditional schooling that crushed children’s creativity. She strove to create a protective bubble within which her kids could, and now the visiting writers at the retreat can, foster and develop their creative ideas. Her son Justin is a great example of how her philosophy can work. Justin has worked at some of the best restaurants in the States, and arguably the very best one in Tennessee. After Justin custom designed a menu to my tastes and cooked for me for a week while I was writing, I understood what a wonderful compliment fine meals can be to a week of creative immersion. Oh, and I can’t forget Ron. He is awesome in the kitchen too.

With Karen mentoring me, I found a wonderful anecdote to all the numerous distractions and pressures of the world that work against the creative spirit. I came to HillHouse from Manhattan where I live and where a million things are at work to pull me away from my writing. Karen quickly helped make HillHouse my protective bubble. She started doing this before I arrived, sending me an enthusiastic email after she read my chapters saying, in essence, if almost verbatim: “keep writing!” She was excited, and I started getting excited too. After I arrived, she told me her approach to writing a novel. (She’s written a few herself). I made notes on what stood out to me as most helpful. And then I sent her my pages daily as I wrote them. (Which she offered as one of many possible ways we could do things). Everything she liked, she told me about. It made it fun to write more. I’m still not sure what she might not have cared for, because she never mentioned it. And I didn’t need it, not at all. It was a week of cranking out pages, not spilling red ink. I’ve been to workshops where I’ve had my work critiqued. That has helped my writing and it has its place. But for my week at HillHouse, I didn’t need it. Karen’s un-intrusive, nurturing style of mentoring worked and it felt great. All day, every day of seven days, I wrote. I watched the farm animals (ultimately meeting most of them) from my various perches on the wrap-around porch and wrote away. When it rained on my last day, I sat in my room at the wood desk by the window and I kept on writing.


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