What It Was Like Attending a Flash Fiction Writing Retreat in Colorado

Imagine: you’re tucked away on a cliffside lodge in the Colorado mountains, within walking distance from Rocky Mountain National Park trails. The air is crisp and cool, the afternoon sun warm and comforting. Your room overlooks a tiny summer tourist town and a serene lake bobbing with kayaks, paddle boards, and boats. Hummingbirds flit from feeders, crickets buzz, hopping along the pathways, and moose lurk in the woods. A creek emits constant, soothing white noise from your window.

Because of the Creative Pinellas Professional Artist Grant, I had the fortunate opportunity of experiencing all this just last week when I attended an almost week-long writing retreat in Grand Lake, CO. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the retreat was for flash fiction writing, and it was led by two flash writers I greatly admire, Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish. There were 13 other writers there, and we stayed in a lodge called Shadowcliff. Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge is an “educational non-profit lodge and retreat center…” (shadowcliff.org) aimed at providing a space for artistic creativity. The staff there was incredible, cooking the group three tasty meals a day and displaying incredible hospitality.

The combination of the wonderful accommodations, the guidance of the workshop leaders, being immersed in picturesque surroundings, and spending time with other like-minded writers created the most inspiring week. I had several breakthroughs in some of my old flash pieces, spent time submitting my flash for publication, generated first or second drafts of about five flash pieces, and read a ton. I unplugged, vowing to delete and disengage with social media, and it felt so good to not be tethered to scrolling mindlessly, instead putting that energy into my writing and creativity. Just taking 15 minutes to go out and observe nature had my creativity going in overdrive.

This is what a typical day looked like:
8:00 a.m. Breakfast
10-11:30 a.m. Workshop w/ Kathy
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00-4:00 p.m. One-on-one sessions, free time, writing, etc.
4:00-5:30 p.m. Workshop w/ Nancy
6:00 p.m. Dinner

One thing I did not expect was to feel so connected and close to the other writers on the retreat. I arrived not knowing anyone, and by the end of the retreat, I felt so sad saying goodbye to everyone I had bonded with through the art of writing. Everyone was so positive and encouraging. The energy from the group was indescribable.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to attend this flash fiction retreat because of the Creative Pinellas Professional Artist Grant. I am ready to continue working on putting together my flash fiction collection, and I hope it goes into the world soon.

The last night of the retreat, there happened to be a festival going on called “Buffalo Days” down in the town of Grand Lake. The group had just finished reading our work at a final night reading salon, and we gathered outside in the cool mountain air watching the sky explode with sparkling color. I knew at the time that it was a special moment, and I will hold that memory close to me for a very long time.



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