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2019 Summer Writing Retreat - "Transforming a Story Worth Telling into a Story Worth Reading" with Donna Johnson and Kirk Wilson

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Schreiner University
2100 Memorial Blvd.
Kerrville, TX 78028

7/14/2019 to 7/19/2019


Registration is now closed for individual classes at the 2019 Summer Writing Retreat. There are still spots available for the Write Away option (no campus housing) until close of check-in at 5pm on Sunday, July 14. If you'd like to register for the Write Away, contact Becka Oliver at

Please read both the credit card handling fee information and the refund policy at the bottom of this page before purchasing a ticket.


"Transforming a Story Worth Telling into a Story Worth Reading" with Donna Johnson and Kirk Wilson


Class Meeting Times:

Sunday, July 14: Orientation, 6pm
Monday through Friday, July 15-19: 9am to 12pm (class instruction), 1pm to 4pm (writing time) 

Most people who aspire to write a memoir come equipped with a story worth telling. That’s a good thing because it’s the first requirement for a successful memoir. It’s also only the beginning, one among many ingredients in the alchemy it takes to transform a story worth telling into a story worth reading. Whether you’re just starting out or reworking your fifth draft, this class is designed to help you through that difficult but rewarding transformation.

This class will introduce fresh perspectives on the process through craft lectures, generative exercises, reference to work by established masters of the genre, and open class discussion.

Class Takeaways will include:
• Who’s telling the tale?—the supreme significance of voice
• “Going deep” to sift for meaning and put it on the page
• The advantages of the “reflective voice” and the “double timeline”
• “Showing” and “telling”
• Incorporating outside references to broaden the reach of the story
• Shifting perspective to get at the truth
• The building blocks—word choice, the sentence and the line
• The delicate balance between the known and the unknown
• Revisions—uncovering what’s there
• The market—a guide to publishing in journals and small presses

This class is appropriate for writers in any stage of the memoir process, those just beginning, those with works-in-progress, and those with completed drafts in revision.

All class participants will have a 20-minute one-on-one consultation with the instructor during the retreat and will have the opportunity to share a selection from their work in progress with the instructor ahead of the retreat. Details on the consultation and instructions for submitting material will be shared with registrants in May.

About the Instructors

“I loved this course. Donna and Kirk make a great team. I learned so much, not only about the art of writing memoir, but about writing in general. I will bring the skills they noticed and noted to everything I read and write in the future.” - Summer Writing Retreat Attendee

Donna M. Johnson is the author of Holy Ghost Girl, a critically acclaimed memoir deemed “enthralling” by the New York Times and “compulsively readable” by Texas Monthly. Oprah named the book to her Memoirs We Love list. Holy Ghost Girl won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize and took top honors at the Books for a Better Life Awards in Manhattan. Donna has written for Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Shambhala Sun, Psychology Today, and other publications. Donna is a Ragdale Fellow and was recently awarded a fellowship at the Lucas Artist’s Residency. She is currently at work on a memoir that combines investigative reporting with person narrative.

Kirk Wilson
is a 2018 NEA Fellow whose work in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. Recently shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Short Story Award and selected for The 64 Best Poets of 2018 by Black Mountain Press, he is the recipient of the New Millennium Award for Nonfiction, a Pushcart nominee, and a finalist for the Crazyhorse Nonfiction Prize, the Machigonne Fiction Award, and the Wordstock Short Fiction Competition. A chapbook of his poems, The Early Word, was published by Burning Deck press. His true crime classic Unsolved has been published in six editions in the US and UK. His website is


All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee. To avoid the fee, you have the option of mailing a check to our office with this registration form.


(Please read this refund policy closely before registering for the 2019 Summer Writing Retreat; no exceptions will be made):

Through May 15, 2019: 100% refund available.
May 16 - June 20, 2019: 50% refund available.

All cancellations will incur a $50 cancellation fee.

After June 20, 2019: No refunds will be made, but registrants can transfer their registration to another person as long as advance notice is given to the Writers' League of Texas. If you wish to transfer your registration, please call the WLT at 512-499-8914.