Conference Testimonials

To Sheila, Meg and Jack, thank you for being such good teachers and so inspirational.  I learned more in 3 days with you than I did at all the other conferences (3) that I have attended in the past 3 years.

— Mary Lou Todd

“I also wanted to thank you again for a great conference. Just days after meeting with you individually and Jack in the manuscript group I felt my writing turn a necessary corner. It is a great feeling except for the fact that now I`m writing late into the night!”

Pat La Pointe

What a wonderful weekend I had in Arizona! Once again the three of you gave a fabulous conference. You each bring a tremendous body of knowledge to those of us who aspire to the writing life, and your skill and kindness in teaching us makes the experience rich and pleasurable. Thank you so much. Each time I meet and work with all three of you, I gain skills, knowledge and an ever-increasing enjoyment in the process of writing.  See you at the next one! 

Carolyn Terry

“I loved the conference. Some professional institutes offer helpful assistance, but not personal connections; some offer friendships and networking possibilities, but little in new techniques. There also those that offer the best of both, but a sterile convention hall environment. PT was excellent in all three regards. I`m still glowing.”

 

“Six of my new poems have been accepted for publication. All germinated in last April’s conference in Pt Townsend. How about that?  I am so thankful for you and the healing I have experienced. I hope you understand the power of your work and your importance to all of your students.”

— Gary Anderson

“Attending the “Writing It Real” Conference in Port Townsend was, for me, a weekend of inspiration! I especially enjoyed the warm and welcoming community of writers! But your in-class exercises with Meg Files and Jack Heffron invited a roll of energy, up-beat and positively, motivating!” 

“I did treat myself to one of the best teaching teams! Thank you. I would love to attend again!”

“Thank you for a wonderful experience. I came away with both some specific ideas for what to do with the pieces I brought and, perhaps more importantly, with a sense of what might help me with all of my writing. This morning I did a little “__ is like___” in my early morning journal writing and came up with the beginnings of a little essay. And that felt very satisfying.”

“We`re home now with much to do: Scripts to rewrite, books to buy Lessons learned, now to apply Watch modifiers, don`t leave `em dangling Expunge exposition, delight and excite. Like Momma, the reader knows best.

We caress our keyboards afresh Letters and words screen in military line. Port Townsend inspired, the faculty challenged, Colleagues flattered, encouraged Those two days in sun by the sea.”

“Graci, graci to all of you for sharing your wisdom and writing passion with all of us – AND for welcoming us, at all levels of ability, to the higher bar, as individual as that is. You are a fine trio together. What great chemistry.”

“Wonderful–you all create something profound, cooperation rather than competition (true, deep support).”

“Excellent teachers! Well organized.”

“This was a wonderful experience. I learned so much.”

“This experience has built my confidence, given me encouragement and provided me with concrete guidance for improving my writing. Thank you.”

“I loved that the conference is limited to 30 people and is such a warm and encouraging environment.”

“Thanks to Sheila and Jack, Meg, Dana, and all my co-participants for a completely satisfying weekend. The workshop increased my confidence as a writer (Look, I`m even able to say “as a writer”!) and taught me important techniques that I know will improve my writing immeasurably. It was a beautiful combination of learning, fun, and friendship which I would definitely do again.”

I wanted to let you know the cotyledon you nourished has sprouted well. My first children’s book, Substitute Groundhog (Whitman), was named a Junior Library Guild Selection, and was recently bought by Scholastic for paper and audio. I’m told it immediately sold out and they were unable to fill their orders with the initial print run! My third children’s book will be out in March.

At your workshop, I won the “Worst Beginning Line” contest, which might seem inauspicious. However, it gave me confidence that I could create what my audience would like. Thank you for all the inspiration and humor you bring to the process.

This conference is the best thing I have ever done for myself in a very long time. Speakers were excellent, the organization was fantastic and all the personal touches were very much appreciated. I feel full!

What a fantastic experience. Loved the intensity & full immersion for the weekend. Loved the camaraderie of fellow writers & teachers. I feel so inspired & energized for the return home in terms of my writing.

Thank you for organizing such a personable, inspiring conference. I had such a special time, and would love to come next year.

— Pat Miller

“I wanted to write, be with the writers, learn something, and get inspired and motivated. I got it all! Even sunshine.”

This conference was more than I could hope for. It was well organized yet flexible and accepting of writers at all levels.”

“Thank you so much for such a personable and helpful conference!”

“I expected a week of learning and growing, but I couldn`t have predicted the directions they would lead. I learned to hear the poet in my heart. The door to publishing was opened and I`m not nearly as afraid to walk through.”

“The community of writers, the professional approach to serious craft, the expertise of the facilitators, the variety of the curriculum and the perfect pace – bravo!”

“I wanted the peace and time to start writing again and it was fulfilled.”

“Thank you! I`m inspired and dedicated! Can`t wait for next year!” “I`m impressed with the spirit of the workshop participants. I`ll be back next year!”

“The conference exceeded my expectations in almost every way. I gained greater understanding of the craft, of various approaches to writing, of good workshop technique, and of the community of writers. I felt very much at home and nurtured as a professional by professionals.”

 

What Writing Professionals Say About the Conference Faculty

“Sheila Bender is an extraordinary teacher in person and on the page. In Writing and Publishing Personal Essays, her enthusiasm, her wit, and her expertise provide us with exciting ways to approach the art of creative nonfiction. This book is chock full of useful instructions and prompts that will keep you writing a long time.”

—Brenda Miller, author of Season of the Body: Essays, Tell it Slant:Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction

“Jack Heffron`s Writer`s Idea Book has quickly become a favorite among writers, no matter what their experience level. The thought-provoking prompts alone make this a valuable tool any writer can use for their own projects.”

from fictionaddiction.net

“Meg Files performs the most ancient story-teller`s art: she insistently leads her characters to the precipice of loss, despair, submission to the large terrors and small anomies of their times; and then allows them to achieve a kind of grace and hopefulness in the very teeth of the abyss–in her own unforgettable phrase, `human and winged.`”

Ron Powers, author of Far From Home and Cruel Radiance 

All of the conferences Sheila teaches and promotes are hands-on events during which participants create new writing, workshop older writing, enjoy writing consults and attend craft lectures complete with exercises that inspire writers with practice in particular craft elements.

All conferences are for mixed levels of writers, from those just beginning to pursue their writing dreams to those who are well published in particular genres and those who wish to switch genres.

The 2014 conference is in early May in West Bend, WI. Check our specific conference page for the conference schedule, faculty bios, retreat center information and registration information.

We announce upcoming conferences and in-person writing seminars in our weekly and quarterly newsletters. Be sure you have signed up on our home page to receive our mailings.

Writing It Real’s Annual Conference

In 1998, faculty member Meg Files asked Sheila Bender and Jack Heffron to join her in reviving a conference she had directed in Colorado for many summers. For two years, the three of us met in Glenwood Springs, CO with attendees from around the continental US. We enjoyed the June Rocky Mountain air and the hot springs and vapor caves Glenwood is home to. In our third year, we moved the conference to Steamboat Springs and continued to enroll people from all over, including Hawaii and Australia.

In 2004, Meg suggested Sheila bring the conference to Port Townsend, WA. The timing near the summer solstice and the latitudes of the gorgeous Northwest made for lovely long days amidst Port Townsend’s charming Victorian seaport ambiance and arts culture.

In 2009, Meg, Jack and Sheila were excited to announce a special conference time and place prompted by the six-week closure of the Hood Canal Bridge, which links the Olympic Peninsula to the Seattle area mainland. While the bridge was being repaired, Writing It Real’s annual conference took place on board the Rhapsody of the Seas, leaving Vancouver, BC and cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage. We offered our lectures, small group in-class writing instruction, small group manuscript workshops, and writing and publishing consultations aboard Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas.

We have now offered this conference in Madison, WI at a gracious Benedictine retreat center and in Oracle, AZ at the historic C.O.D. ranch, as well as near Music Row in Nashville, TN, in addition to our Port Townsend location. In 2014, we look forward to meeting a gracious retreat center and spa in West Bend, WI.

Wherever and whenever we come together, the writing continues and deepens, connecting us to one another and to our own dreams and experiences.

Remember to sign up for the Writing It Real newsletter on our home page so you receive our announcements of each year’s event with lots of time to make arrangements to join us.