What She Said

Outer Banks 2019: Testimonials

Twelve women shed their everyday lives…and we immersed ourselves in an indulgent week of writing with Linda at the helm. 

We had the choice to write, take her classes or both; I chose both. She taught the foundational components of a successful story, the three-act structure, how to write micro-memoir, how to provide a successful critique and how to receive a critique (my first). Linda offered tips, books, authors, websites to explore and so much more. 

Throughout the week, women shared their stories; some the first night, others as the week wore on. We all felt safe sharing. Among family. Free to be ourselves. 

I choked out a story I’d kept safely hidden for 35 years; I was embraced and supported. It was a privilege and an honor to be among this group of supportive, talented writers. 

Linda’s a brilliant writer, a concise editor and a passionate teacher who brings out the best in everyone. She’s truly a gem. I highly recommend Linda’s magical workshops. I’ve signed up for two in 2020!

L. Williams, Former Financial Manager at NASA
Currently at work on her forthcoming memoir

Linda Lowen’s Outer Banks Writer’s Retreat was a delightfully well-oiled machine. The women involved seemed to be hand picked as not only beautiful writers, but thoughtful and supportive women trying to help each other become better at their craft. You were able to do as many or as little of the short workshops as you wanted, although I found the teachings and critiques to be extraordinary. 

As someone with a recent MFA in screenwriting, my biggest complaint about my graduate program was that the mostly young men in my class had no idea how to construct a useful critique. Linda took the time to explain what she wanted from our group critiques, and the help and support I received not only got me over my block, but made me look forward to critiques of my work in the future. I cannot express how grateful I am for this particular personal healing.

Did I mention the fun and laughter? Well there was TONS OF THAT. Everything from getting to know each other by taking walks on the beach, to swimming in the heated pool, or just laughing during meals…I have made a group of friends that I will have for a lifetime. 

The beauty surrounding this gorgeous and massive house was not to be believed. Across the street from a pristine beach, there was sun and sunsets for days and so many places to explore. There was always so much open space in the house to find a couch, a whole room, or even a nook to squirrel away in to write.  Although you could also almost always find someone in the large kitchen or great room to run something by or share a laugh with. The bedrooms were large and bright, all with en suite bathrooms, and many with large private decks. A true plethora of space and relaxation.

This was hands down the best writer’s retreat I have ever attended. I was so happy and relaxed—and yet got so much work done—it was like magic. A magical time in the most beautiful of locations. Kudos to Linda Lowen. She has achieved something truly wondrous.

Alice Barden, Screenwriter / Actress
Los Angeles, California

A writers’ retreat which was a combination of spark, sea, space, and time. It was a sanctuary for sharing stories and getting feedback. I returned with new friendships…and fulgurite—a stone created when lightning strikes sand. I was Struck by Writing.

Bobbie Dumas Panek
Author, Just Another Day
Former Poetry Editor, National League of American Pen Women magazine
Freelance editor
Auburn, New York

This should be easy, I think to myself, reviewing the whittled down micro-memoir exercise in preparation for our shared critique group. Then again, I told myself the same thing about yesterday’s story, a benign tale about a stuffed dog toy. Imagine my surprise when halfway through the story I started to choke up and cry.

Fortunately, I was in good company. A group of about a dozen women…all of us sharing slices of our lives. Tiny biopsies of who we are, have been or hoped to be. Almost all of us shed tears at some point during the readings. True to its name, the women’s writing retreat dubbed Struck by Writing… had an alchemical power to blast through any carefully created defenses.

But not this time, I tell myself. The story I am about to read is based on a photo of my great grandfather. Removed from my personal life, I never knew him… If anything, people will think this one boring… Yet a few lines in I am caught off guard, tears rolling. 
How does this keep happening?

Part of the magic…is undoubtedly the atmosphere. Surrounded by inspiration from the beach, nature and the energy of the Outer Banks. Part lies in the shared stories of the amazing women who gravitated toward the event itself. Another part lies in the ability of writing instructor Linda Lowen to create this incubator of expression. 

I don’t write memoir. Though Stephen King says all writing is autobiographical, I prefer to let my story slide along in the crevices outside of the spotlight, where some greater message should take up space. 
Yet this retreat taught me the incredible power of personal stories. The power to create bonds, to disarm, awaken, and move each other and ourselves to release deeply rooted emotions. 

Angela Kaufman
Author, Queen Up! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down (Conari Press 2018)
Intuitive Coach
Albany, New York
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