About Writers’ Sanctuary
“Some of my best work has evolved out of Sue Reynolds’ Sanctuary Sundays. She provides a peaceful and nurturing setting, as well as experiential exercises to get the writing juices flowing and inspire the writer within. Sue herself is a beautiful, encouraging, and supportive presence (plus an excellent cook – lunch is included!). Sue has an innate talent for recognizing the jewels in each writer’s work. The effect of this one day lasts weeks, a door opened for future writing.”
– Poet Annabelle Murray
When I was the mother of a young child I used to dream of having a place I could go to periodically to write. Not for too long – there was too much going on at home. But a day now and then – a few hours to devote to my poor book that so often got shunted to one side because of all the other demands of my life.
And then, as it has a habit of doing, my life changed. I moved into this cozy space in the woods full of bookshelves, a fireplace, a kitchen where the coffee pot is always ready to pour a cup or two, and a yard where the wildlife parades past the windows and serenades day and night (everything from blue jays and chickadees, juncos and nuthatches, to wild turkeys, deer, a weasel, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, wolves, and – just a couple of times in the spring – a black bear). It’s only an hour from downtown Toronto, but it feels like it’s a whole universe apart.
It’s a magical space and I realized I could share it with other writers and make those creative days I had once dreamed of happen, for myself and for other members of the writing tribe.
And so, Writers’ Sanctuaries were born.
At a Sanctuary, we begin at 10:00 a.m. Writers are welcome to arrive a few minutes early to settle in, grab a coffee or tea, and muffin or some fruit and chat with the others.
The morning is spent doing a series of on-the-spot timed writing exercises to stretch those stiff writing muscles and get the creative writer in you feeling more relaxed, focused and perhaps even a little experimental.
After the delicious lunch (provided) the afternoons are spent in silent communion with other writers, working either on a computer or by hand on whatever project is preoccupying you as a writer these days. If you don’t have a laptop but want to work on a keyboard, you will be provided with a computer. Your Word file can be emailed to you at the end of the day.
Uplands is in a peaceful rural location, so you are also welcome to go out for a walk on quiet country lanes if you need a break. There’s even a couch or two if you need your afternoon nap for half an hour to wake up refreshed and ready to write some more!
Writing is over at 4:00 p.m. for those who need to get home, but if you wish to stay, there will be an opportunity to sit a while longer, to share some of what you’ve been working on and to debrief, discuss issues of craft, etc. The day is finished by around 5:00.
Each Sanctuary has a limited number of participants to maintain a high quality of mentorship and group feedback.
As I drove away from my first Sanctuary with Sue Reynolds I began to cry and the words came to my mouth, “I can do this. I can actually write.” I felt heard, respected and honoured in that circle of writers. But the most potent gift was the confirmation that what I longed to do was a possibility and not just a dream. Sue’s remarkable ability to not only recall whole phrases read from a long piece but the way she makes one’s own words shimmer with beauty and meaning as she turns them over in her mouth is an experience every writer and aspiring writer should have. When I look back over the novel I have just completed I notice that all of my favourite scenes begin with a prompt I received at Sanctuary. I am a reasonably self-motivated writer now, but a nourishing day at Sanctuary gives me the opportunity to share with other writers as well as devoted time to turn out usually at least dozen pages of work to launch me into the next phase of my work.
— Novelist Deepam Wadds
Place: Uplands – 10 km west of Port Perry, 10 km southeast of Uxbridge.
Cost: During the Coronavirus self-isolation period, Sanctuaries will be offered as 3 hour workshops online. The fee to attend is $45.00. Workshops will begin at 10:00 a.m. and go until 1:00 p.m. on the dates specified.
Normally Sanctuaries are $99. per event, lunch included, HST included.
Because Sanctuary dates are so popular, and because the group is limited in size, your registration is not confirmed until payment is received. If you prefer not to use Paypal, you can pay by emailing your payment or by cheque. The mailing address is:
13240 Mast Road,
Port Perry, ON
Sometimes writers want to come to Sanctuary but it’s full or they don’t have transportation from Toronto. In that case, I want to note that there are two marvelous AWA facilitators in Toronto, both of whom offer single day retreats in the Sanctuary model. I’ve worked with them both and recommend each of them HIGHLY. Click here to read about who they are as writers and facilitators, and about their single day writers’ retreats in the city.
Writers’ Oasis with Susie Whelehan AND StillPoint Writers Workshops and Editing Workshops with Kate Marshall Flaherty
If Sue receives your cancellation notice up to five days in advance of the retreat, (for instance, if the retreat is on a Saturday, she must hear from you by midnight on the previous Sunday) you may choose to apply your deposit to a future retreat if that retreat has space in it. If there are no open spaces that work with your schedule, you will receive a refund minus a $20 administration fee.
If you cancel with less than five days notice, (in the example above, for instance, it would be anytime Monday or later) and your spot cannot be filled from a waiting list, no refund will be made. However, you are permitted to sell or gift your spot for that date to another person. If you do this, please email or call Sue right away to provide the contact information of your replacement. Since Sue provides lunch, it is important that she know of any dietary restrictions etc.
NOTE: *If a Sanctuary is cancelled for any reason, such as severe winter weather creates dangerous driving conditions, Sue will email and call all registered participants. In this situation, participants may request a full refund or transfer their payment to a future retreat date.