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Dear True Secret of Writing retreatants,

I am very much looking forward to experiencing Madeline Island with you.  We will study and practice together in a land sacred to the Ojibwe nation and surrounded by the waters of Lake Superior.  Each day, except in class discussions, we will practice gentle silence from wake-up until 4:30PM.

To help settle ourselves, I’d like us to read the following books ahead of time.  Please remember that when we read, we are studying the writer’s mind.  Writers are our teachers.  Bring these books to the retreat and mark parts you’d like to share in class:

Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage Into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku by Natalie Goldberg

The Night Watchmanby Louise Erdrich

Also, please read The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg.  You do not need to bring this book with you.

Before coming to the retreat, I encourage you to do some writing practice, do two or three ten-minute workouts a week.  This will help you enter our gathering with limber writing muscles.  Don’t know how or where to start?  Use Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind, or Old Friend from Far Away.

Bring and wear loose fitting clothes.  Bring fast writing pens, notebooks, a pair of slip-on shoes, a pair of comfortable walking shoes, swimsuit (if you’d like to take a dip), a small day pack, and a water bottle.

I’m guessing that, for most of you, this will be your first time traveling since the start of the pandemic.  Please take good care of yourselves en route.  While together, we will practice health and safety protocols—physical distancing, face covering, and sanitizing.

I send you all my best.  Be well.

Love, Natalie




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MISA - Madeline Island School of the Arts
978 Middle Road
PO Box 536
La Pointe, WI 54850
(715) 747-2054
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