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Segullah Writers’ Retreat Recap

By Leslie Graff

Were you at the Segullah Writers’ Retreat?  I was.  Well, if you weren’t able to make it, I thought I’d fill you in on how it was… and it was, in a word, amazing.  It was a perfect Saturday, filled with delightful company and writing inspiration, not to mention great food. Truly, every person I talked to was delightful and engaging. There were women I had known for years,  people I had collaborated with on projects, others I know only from the blog, and people I had never met—all of whom I could have spent the entire day talking to. To me nothing is better than spending the day with a group of people who like to think, write, and create (oh yeah, and eat)!

We started breakfast with tray upon tray of fresh-baked Rhodes cinnamon rolls and orange rolls. I can’t tell you how many of these I ate because a true lady would not reveal such indulgence. Kathryn Soper kicked off the conference portion by helping us see how the lunchtime musings of a handful of women went on to become Segullah. Over its five years of life, the journal has expanded, the blog was born, and books have been published.  Steffani Raff’s keynote address on storytelling was fabulous and fascinating; she had us entranced. She helped to get us all talking and listening in ways hitherto not experienced.

Lunch—Mini’s Cupcakes:  salads, gourmet sandwiches, and cupcakes. Is there a better lunch?

Then we had the afternoon workshops. Angela Hallstrom, as an accomplished writer and editor, has such command and mastery of story.  She helped me think in terms of the underlying mechanics, the necessary foundations and grounding components of strong writing.  Brittney Carman is awe-inspiring; her ability to craft words and evoke emotion is indescribable. Her personal  essay class drove me to spend late vacation nights at my husband’s laptop attempting to put the powerful images in my head into words—my childhood experiences in Turkey and the magic of taking my sons to our quaint rustic New England town beach. Darlene Young and Sharlee Glenn put their crowd to happy work with writing exercises that got their poetic juices flowing.

The power-blogging panel of Michelle Lehnardt, Heather Oman, Shelah Miner, Kellie George, and Dalene Rowley explored using blogging as a tool for developing good writing. They dove in with real examples to show how good blogging can take many shapes and forms. Takeaway blogger nuggets: “tell the truth but tell it slant”; find unique perspectives to write from.

Café Rio (we all know that pork in fresh tortillas needs no explanation, in my book) but blend that with sharp company that would rival any good dinner party (oh, and throw in a slice of key lime pie) and you have the Segullah dinner social!

Art studio night was a treat of creativity. It was fun to see each person move in their own direction, exploring their own ideas and using media in different ways to create unique, symbolic pieces.  Those who participated in the creative writing studio got to talk with editors and get the always helpful critique and direction for strengthening their work.

I came home from the writers’ retreat and immediately set to work drafting the essays that started percolating in my mind as I sat in the workshops listening to the presenters. I came home with a million new painting ideas I can’t wait to bring to life on canvas.

Many thanks to Melonie Cannon and all the Segullah staff who worked hard to make it happen. And thanks to all who attended—it was a treat for me to meet so many of you! Thanks for a great summer memory.

Were you there? What was the best part? (Well, besides the cinnamon rolls!) Were you inspired? What did it prompt you to do?

About Leslie Graff

(Art Director) In her pre-diapering days, Leslie earned an MS in Marriage and Family Studies from BYU. This entitled her to mold the minds of impressionable college students in rambling six-hour lecture courses and travel the world as child life specialist. She now passes the seasons in a quaint Massachusetts town with her husband, Allen, and three young sons. She spends her days encouraging play, championing global causes, and whipping up a mean R2D2 cake. She savors her nights, stealing away to her studio to paint.

23 thoughts on “Segullah Writers’ Retreat Recap”

  1. I was there and it was fabulous. In fact, I was scheduled to work that day and there was no way out of it so I just planned to declare it a "mental health day" and called in sick for work. Best Sick Day EVER!

    Being part of the retreat gave me a much-needed jump-start. I've done more creative writing and painting since then than in the previous six months combined.

    I loved spending the day with people I adore, making new friends, and especially those moments when people came up and greeted me with "You're BLUE!" It was good for my self-esteem to be "known"; the whole thing was just all-around wonderful.

    Have you set the date for the next one?! 😉 (I’m sure that’s the last thing Melonie wants to think about!) thanks for you're work and efforts!
    ♥♥♥♥ to all.

  2. I attended and it was wonderful and inspiring!
    I have been a silent "lurker" on this sight for years and expected to be intimidated by all the talent, beautiful women – but everyone was so friendly, inviting and kind.
    Thanks to all the hard working women who organized this event.
    I will attend any event this group puts together.

  3. Me, me, ME!! I was there!

    Oh, how I loved that day! It was great! Meeting new friends, honing some skills–eating yum-o food and having some laughs. The best part? The INSPIRATION. I was so inspired, I went straight home and had a nap. I didn't know inspiration could take so much out of a gal!

    I was sad i missed the evening activities, I hope to join in on those next time.

    Mucho thanks to everyone for all of their efforts and hard work! Like Blue, I am looking forward to the next one.

  4. I had a great time; I also felt a great 'jump start' with several good ideas for essays and other writing projects. The food was great and it was so fun to meet people and chat. I just wish I could have stayed for dinner so I could socialize more. I also hope there's a 'next time' so I can get a chance to attend without a baby to distract me!

    If you need volunteers for another retreat, I'd be glad to help.

  5. Loved it! And loved reconnecting with several people I haven't seen since college and also meeting several wonderful women.

    I wanted to go, but wasn't planning to until 2 am the night before when the decision was made. I'm so grateful for the experience. I've been applying things I've learned ever since.

  6. I'm now back in Australia, and grin every time I think of the retreat – it was a BLAST!

    I think the entire day was my favourite part of it, I just can't narrow it down. Meeting so many awesome ladies – who I know from and can keep knowing online – was incredible.

    Kudos to Melonie, the uberorganiser!

  7. I was there! I couldn't come for the whole day, but I am pictured in your post, holding my yellow project at studio night 🙂 A great reason to get paint on my fingers and chat with lovely, gracious women. Thanks for your guidance with the paints and collage, Leslie. I would love to come to another one.

  8. Thanks so much for a great day. I'm really glad I attended. It was wonderful to meet people who had only been names, and to make new connections.

    I enjoyed listening to others' work in the writing studio, as well as getting feedback on my submission from amazing Brittney.

    Thanks so much to everyone who made it possible.

  9. what a truly enriching experience! i feel so lucky to have been part of the first Segullah writing retreat. the feeling there was so powerful–the sense of belonging, of commitment to the strange and beautiful craft of language. it was an honor to get to spend a day sharing with and receiving from such incredibly creative and talented individuals. thank you to everyone who made it possible!

  10. Wow, it would be wonderful writing retreat. Photos are really good and it is a appreciable work. This kind of writing workshop motivate interested people. This would be a wonderful experience who attended this.

  11. I was there! It was an amazing day and my brain was on overload by the end. I met so many amazing women and learned so much! Thanks for a wonderful day!

  12. After reading the comments and review, I feel like one of the five maidens without any oil. Oh please let it happen again and please those of us who missed, make sure we add the necessary oil!

  13. I was there and I roped my two sister in laws into it 😉 and it was wonderful. We all had a great time.

    The material presented was well prepared and worth every cent. The food was delicious. I got to paint a little bit and that was so fun. Painting is something I'd not given myself over to in years… at least not for my own sake (I may go buy myself some new paints).

    I feel like I can write and blog again. It has been a sad year for me. The retreat was good way to start out a new year in my heart. It was a little warm in the afternoon but even that felt like a little adventure.

    When it was over we realized I had taken the key out of my sister in laws car in the accessory position and the battery was dead. A member of the staff loaned us their running car (while they cleaned up) so the could jump start the battery. We felt like heroes for rescuing ourselves. I really hope you do it again next year, we'll be there.

  14. As one of the Segullah staff who was there, I want to thank all of you for attending and for helping make it such a wonderful event. We were thrilled with the attendance and participation. And it was so fun to meet in person so many of you who comment on our blog. We definitely want to do the writing retreat again. =)

  15. I loved meeting everyone. I loved putting faces with blog names. And I want to say hi to Rebecca, my partner in the imaging workshop–I was running around and never got to say goodbye before you left, but I loved talking with you. That was one of my favorite parts of the day.

    I really appreciate the people who made it possible, which includes not only other staff members who planned it but especially everyone who attended. Thanks so much for coming and sharing your creative energy (does that sound too cheesy) with us.

  16. All I can say is that being there with all of you and planning the retreat was one of the highlights of the last five years for me. LOVED IT! Thank you to all the attendees, the presenters, the staff, and Rhodes.

  17. I have written nine essays as a result of the writing conference. What a fantastic experience! I feel so blessed to be a part of this incredible group of women.


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