Wellspring House, a writing retreat

This summer (2012) I did my first writing retreat. I decided to avoid huge travel costs and stay in-state at Wellspring House in Ashfield, MA. For very little in rent ($220 per week, and it gets cheaper if you stay there off-season), I had a private bedroom, shared bath, shared kitchen and living areas, a gorgeous outdoor patio and lawn, wireless Internet, set in the cutest town you can ever imagine, and tucked in the hills and mountains of western Massachusetts.

I dutifully trucked up my manuscript(s), imagining that I would spread out pages and pages in my bedroom and re-organize, toss some poems, edit some lines. I have to tell you that instead I was swept up in new writing – twelve new poems for the five days I stayed (additional travel cut my week short). And not just twelve crummy poems – at least eight of these are total keepers, maybe more.

I’ll explain Wellspring. It’s run by the most darling southern-born gentleman, Preston Browning, as a retreat for writers and artists. He’s now 83, and if you are of the mind, he will happily talk literature with you. The house is stacked in books and literary journals. There’s a sun porch for the artists. Six bedrooms. While I was there, Wellspring housed a fiction writer, a food writer, a writer of historical fiction, a painter, the mother of a visiting actor, and a poet (me). The mornings were quiet and seemed to be devoted to our creative endeavors. By the afternoon, some of us had burned ourselves out and we’d find other things to do – hiking, shopping, hitting up all the local farmer’s markets. At night we drifted in and out of the kitchen, talking or not. Everyone was lovely. Preston has his own apartment in the house, so I saw him some but not daily.

I just got an email from him saying that although the summer was packed, he doesn’t have many reservations on the books for fall & winter. Ah, I’d go back if I weren’t teaching! Alas. But I will try to spread the word to other writers and artists about this amazing place. He’s extending the less expensive winter rate to the fall, too: only $200 per week or $50 per night starting now.

Oh! I haven’t put a link to the Wellspring website up yet. Here ’tis: Wellspring House. Heck, I love this place so much I’ll put the link up twice: Wellspring House. That should do it.

While you’re there, I recommend visits to Shelburne Falls, Greenfield, Colrain… any of the little hilltowns are fabulous when you need a break from the huge amount of writing you will surely do.

As I tell my students: Write on!

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