october 25 - 27 (full)

and november 8 - 10 (registering now!)

This weekend workshop is registering now, so reach out soon to hold a spot! The memoir intensive is for writers seeking to gain new tools for writing from life. We will  write and revise with an eye toward the fine craft of illuminating the deeper themes of a life story. The goal? To find the universal music in the story, to strike a resonant chord that pushes past the "me" to the "we." Rigorous with a twist, this workshop emphasizes the art and craft of the memoir genre. All levels welcome. 

Elephant Rock does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of age, color of skin, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, or anything else. We expect the same from our all of our participants.

What does "Intensive" mean?

This one is called intensive for a reason! Writing about your life offers the opportunity for creating clarity, cohesion, and beauty from disparate memories that course beneath the surface of your daily experience. Research has shown that writing literally (meaning on an actual physical level) heals. Writing about past experiences in a particular way can improve your physical health as measured by myriad biomarkers. How cool is that? Very cool. But the trick is the art, and your commitment to it. You will leave with valuable  craft principles and tools to apply long after the workshop is over, as you develop a work in progress or begin a new chapter. 

what kind of writer comes?

All kinds of writers have attended this workshop, from complete beginners to those with many publications. The focus and exercises will contain something new and refreshing for everyone, beginners and experienced alike, as we explore the distinction between writing about a life event and the art of memoir. You may choose to start with an existing rough draft or a brand new idea and take it through to a short finished section with at least a little polish (the rest of the polishing is for you to continue on your own after the workshop). We'll go where the fire is! If you don't know, you'll find out. Writing artfully about your life is one of the most empowering, satisfying, and transformative activities you can undertake. It's not the same as journaling. It's art, and this workshop will illuminate that crucial distinction. 

What's the Focus?

Our focus will be the art and craft of writing and the nitty gritty of how to get a piece from here (your head) to there (the page) while transforming it from an experiential recollection to something more distilled, more refined ... something that shimmers, regardless of whether it is light or dark (it will be both). And we'll explore the concept of why that particular transformation from recollection to something more is so essential! Importantly, you'll learn to identify and practice a fluid balance of  five key modes of creative writing: description, dialogue, interior monologue, action, and exposition.

Do We Stay Overnight?

Not at the workshop space, no. This intensive is Minneapolis-based, held 6-9 PM Friday and 10-4 PM Saturday and Sunday at the Elephant Rock homestead just blocks from the University of Minnesota campus and a few miles from downtown Minneapolis. There are a great many hotels nearby, some within easy walking distance, all within an easy drive or ligh trail ride (Elephant Rock is a block away from the light rail), as well as many Airbnb options. Let me know if you want help with recommendations.

What are The Requirements?

A passion for writing and a willingness to work on sharpening your craft. An open heart.

Who is the teacher?

This workshop is led by Jeannine Ouellette, 2018 Narrative Story Contest Finalist, 2017 Masters Review Emerging Writer Awardee, 2016 Proximity Essay Contest Awardee, 2015 Curt Johnson Fiction Awards honoree, two-time Pushcart nominee, published author of several books, founder of Elephant Rock, and, most of all, passionate teacher of writing. In addition to teaching through Elephant Rock, Jeannine serves as a writing mentor for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Writer-to-Writer Program and teaches writing through the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop. She also guest lectures on writing at the University of Minnesota.

What is the Cost?

Tuition is $549 and a non-refundable deposit of $300 is required to hold your spot. Full payment is due 15 days before the workshop begins. 

How Do I Register?

Contact me at elephantrockretreats@gmail.com.  Inquire soon, and thank you! These will be a fantastic workshop and I hope to see you there! 

What Have Others Had to Say?

One writer observed: "I'm still working on settling the emotions of all I learned, felt, and began to understand about my writing and my life this past weekend. Thank you!" Another observed, "Thank you for your incredible energy, sharing of knowledge and craft, hospitality and grace. I felt blessed to be a part of workshop." Writers of all levels gain insight and tools from Elephant Rock workshops and retreats. Read observations from past participants here, and please don't hesitate to get in touch directly with questions about whether this workshop is right for you! These workshops do sell out, though. So don't delay.

This sounds great but I am booked already, now what?

Elephant Rock is also hosting an array of remote writing workshops through the year as well as additional retreats. Or maybe you would like to apply for individual mentorship, an intense and highly effective way to push your writing forward. Or  maybe this is your year for the biggest and brightest Elephant Rock Retreat of all, the Summer Solstice Retreat at Stout's Island. If none of these work for you, don't worry. Request to join the mailing list and watch for future offerings. Meanwhile, keep writing!