Wintering: A Good Life Writer’s Retreat
Seguinland Institute, Georgetown, ME
January 2 – January 21, 2023
For Gap Year and Early College Students
1 College Course in English | 4 Credits | Transferable
In this three-week course we will explore the rich creative landscape at the confluence of writing and the outdoors. We’ll combine reflective study of craft with generative writing exercises and winter adventure. Our stories live in our bodies, and thus the time we spend outside learning new skills (dogsledding expedition included!), expanding our winter comfort zones, and cultivating our awareness of the natural world will enhance our narratives and help to bring our writing to life. All genres are welcome, and creative experimentation is encouraged. You do not need to identify as a writer to be successful in this course; you need only to come with an open mind and a set of questions that you’re hungry to explore through the filter of creative writing.
Through creative prompts, inspired readings, and class discussions we will examine craft tools such as voice, setting, characterization, sensory description, narrative arc, and revision. By the end of the second week, you’ll choose one piece to workshop in a group setting. You’ll then revise with peer and faculty feedback and present at our own little winter festival during week three of the program. You will leave the course with a new body of work inspired by themes of wintering, a greater command of craft, one or more polished pieces, and the inspiration to continue to nurture your writing practice in all seasons.
Writing and Renewal in Maine’s North Woods
An Adventures in Good Company Expedition for Women
August 5 – August 10, 2023
Escape to a lakeside writing retreat in the iconic landscape of Maine’s north woods, defined by their solitude, sparkling lakes, and incredible wildlife. Spark creativity as you engage your body in the outdoors. Discover the stories you want to tell as you learn new skills, expand your comfort zone, and cultivate an awareness of the natural world. Then, with the encouragement and instruction of AGC guide and professional outdoor writer, Jenny O’Connell, craft your stories into pieces of writing you’re proud of. Explore this beautiful corner of the country by foot, kayak, and raft, and return each night to comfortable green built lodges nestled amongst the pines on Millinocket Lake. All genres and writing levels are welcome! On our last night, we’ll share our work out loud and celebrate together in the company of our supportive group.
What draws me most to creative writing is the potential it allows for connecting people to each other, to the world, and to the experience of being alive. I come to my mentor sessions with 13 years of teaching experience, eight years as a professional writer, and a creative arsenal of tools to help you generate new creative material, hone your craft, and prepare your writing for publication. I would love to walk with you on your writing journey!
Creative Writing Warm-Up: Get the creative juices flowing, generate new work, and set up structures for success in your writing. I will guide you through a series of custom-tailored prompts aimed at unlocking the stories you want to tell, work with you to establish and stick to a writing routine, help you curate a reading list relevant to your writing, and provide a phone consultation with feedback on your writing samples. This is a great option for writers looking to develop a new body of work quickly.
Manuscript Critiques: This option is for work (personal essays, memoir excerpts, or short nonfiction) that is ready for the revision process. I will read up to 25 pages of your writing with a focus on voice, setting, vulnerability and interior, characterization, and structure, as well as other elements that need attention. You will receive a detailed letter with feedback, as well as suggestions for deepening the work, and if desired, placing it with a publication.
Custom Mentorship: This is a flexible option for those looking to improve their creative nonfiction writing over the course of a few months or longer, or for writers looking for developmental edits on a longer body of work. This service is customized to the individual, and depends on the writer’s goals and needs.
Group workshops: Give your friends and/or co-workers the gift of creativity! Through custom-tailored workshops, we’ll generate creative material, hone our craft and storytelling skills, and practice sharing our work with each other. For groups of six or more.
The Wilderness Within: An outdoor guide for 13 years, I offer sea kayaking, backpacking, and hiking expeditions aimed at connecting to our creative courage through pushing the limits of our bodies in the outdoors. Each experience is crafted to include a balance of learning technical skills, exploring the outdoors, and writing time. Custom expeditions (rock climbing, ice climbing, winter camping, whitewater rafting or canoeing, and international travel) are subject to the availability of additional guide team members, but may be available upon request.
Teaching Experience: I earned my M.F.A. in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine in 2017. An educator for 13 years, I present craft and publishing seminars to graduate students at Stonecoast MFA’s biannual residencies, and teach at The Telling Room—a nationally renowned creative writing program for youth. My past creative writing courses have included a character intensive at the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies at Maine College of Art & Design, and a personal essay class with folks in recovery through Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance‘s Community Word Program.
“Jenny is able to create a special magic in her classes: a product of both her multitude natural gifts and her finely-honed teaching craft. She creates a warm, loving, deeply personal container which, when combined with the varied structure and thoughtfully curated prompts and themes, really lays a potent ground for magic to arise. I did some of my best writing in years with Jenny. She helped me discover abilities and insights I didn’t know I had.“
Mira Manickam, San Francisco, CA
“Jenny has a way of helping me get out of my own way. Through her coaching and guidance, I was able to push aside the judge that camps out in my head, and write freely and authentically. She helps me write in my own voice.“
Johanna Sorrell, New Hampshire
“I loved it all! Jenny’s invitations were really sweet and thoughtful and definitely made my experience above and beyond. Even just a little feedback from her really gets my gears turning on ways to make my writing better and closer to what I am trying to say.“
Amanda Gavin, Portland, Maine