Below is a description of the program for the 2013 Writer’s Renaissance. Sign up here to get information on the 2014 program as it becomes available.
Sunday Evening, April 7: Welcome Reception
We will gather on the breathtaking terrace at the hotel. The one facing the Duomo and the Piazza della Signoria. We’ll get to know each other and hear more about our week while sipping Prosecco (Italian champagne) and munching on antipasti.
Monday, April 8: Writing from a Sense of Place
Place is much more than setting. Place is written on our hearts and whispers in our ears. Place is hope and regret and longing. Author Lisa Clifford knows this better than anyone. She spent 18 years torn between Australia and Florence – a career and a man. Luckily, she ended up having both!
After breakfast, we will meet Lisa at the gates of the Boboli gardens, where she will lead us in a discussion about how to use place in writing. We’ll have writing time in the gardens, and then free time for you to explore the gardens further, continue your writing, or do whatever else your heart might desire. Lunch is on your own.
Evening: Reconvene on terrace for sharing time and Aperitivo
Don’t miss Lisa on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. In this hugely inspiring episode, Lisa discusses Becoming a Writer at a Writing Workshop in Italy. She shares her real-life love story that became a book that inspired a movie, how a murder in her husband’s family shaped her writing, and what she’ll be teaching on-location in the Boboli Gardens at the retreat. She calls the chance to spend a week in the company of other writers in such a beautiful location, “Heaven on a stick.”
Tuesday, April 9: What is Your Block of Marble?
Writer’s block is never about a lack of ideas. It’s always about fear. Imagine what Michelangelo felt right before he struck the first blow into that huge block of marble that become the David. Author Julie Hedlund will spend some time after breakfast discussing Michelangelo and the lessons we can learn from him and apply in our writing. Then we will go the Accademia Gallery to see Mr. David himself. Author Mary Hoffman, who published a book told from the perspective of the fictional model for David, will accompany us. You’ll be given writing instruction and exercises to work on in your free time aimed toward striking blows at your own blocks of fear. Lunch is on your own.
Evening: Reconvene on terrace for sharing time and Aperitivo
Wednesday, April 10: On Location
How do authors, who are setting their stories in places other than where they live, use their time when they are “on location” doing research? What are the best onsite and offsite tactics for evoking the sensory, logistical and emotional details of a place? If the time-period is historic, how can visiting a place in modern time help uncover the “bones” of the era in question?
Almost every novel author Mary Hoffman has written has taken place in a city and/or a time period “foreign” to her. After breakfast, she will reveal her secrets to us. Mary will take us to the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine where we will write a “scene” together. As we walk, we will look at the city from the eyes of a protagonist. When we arrive at the chapel, we’ll take details from the site to incorporate them into our scene. After our walk we will refresh ourselves at a typical Florentine trattoria for lunch. Your writing exercise for the afternoon, should you choose to accept it, will be a continuation of the story using the techniques Mary shares.
The afternoon, evening and dinner is on your own.
Thursday, April 11: Visual Arts and Poetry
Author/illustrator Katie Davis will lead us in a session focused on how practicing visual arts can create breakthroughs in our writing. And no, you do NOT need to be an artist to benefit from this session. But it would be a crying shame not to take advantage of the abundance of artistic inspiration in Florence and use it to inform and inspire our writing. Location and specific description TBD because this session will be developed with the specific retreat attendees and their level of experience in mind.
Later, Katie will lead us through a “Vulcan Mind Meld” poetry exercise that is guaranteed to have us laughing until we cry. This session will disabuse anyone holding of the notion that poetry is scary and/or that writing it is only for the literary elite.
Evening: Reconvene on terrace for sharing and Aperitivo. Optional: We’ll also practice performing a “group poem” for recording on Friday morning.
Friday, April 12: Creativity and Cooking
Optional activity for those participating in the group poem: The fabulous writer and poet Renée LaTulippe will come, set up her camera on the gorgeous terrace, and record us performing our group poem. Participants will also have the option of reading a short individual poem. Renee will then share the videos, along with links to participating poets (because you are all poets) on her blog NoWaterRiver.com. We’ll be famous!
Don’t miss Renee LaTulippe on Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast in an episode entitled, How to Inspire Creative Juices. Renee talks about her sources of inspiration as a poet, why she believes poetry is meant to be read out loud, why Italy is so perennially inspiring for writers and artists and why “if you can swing it (Writer’s Renaissance), it should be swung.” You will also find out what’s behind the name No Water River.
After the breakfast and recording session, the rest of the morning is on your own. Grab a quick panini for lunch and meet back at the hotel for our last adventure together.
We’ve spent the week sharing recipes for good writing. Now we are going to head out to the countryside to put our cooking to the test. Specifically, we are going to Badia a Coltibuono (Abbey of the Good Harvest). It’s a former twelfth century monastery and vineyard that’s been converted into a guest estate. They make their own wines, grow much of their own food, and boast a top-rated cooking school. When we arrive, we’ll have time to take a tour of the grounds, or relax and write. Then we’ll test our chops in the kitchen while we sip wine whose grapes have ancestry going back to the twelfth century. We’ll cap it off with a gala dinner to celebrate our week. Our transportation will then arrive to take our weary and happy selves back to the hotel. Want a sneak peek into what this trip was like for 2013 participants? Here’s a short video with highlights from the cooking class!
Saturday, April 13: Goodbyes
We’ll meet for breakfast one last time and make our goodbyes, with hopes of keeping in touch and sharing more adventures in the future.