In June 2018, Rosa di Tufo hosted six writers (seven including me) for ten days for the second-ever Writers Retreat in Tufo.
In that span, we wrote a whole lot. Everybody was workshopped, two of us finished first drafts of novels, another walked away with a working structure for her own long-form project, and the rest of us either advanced or finished shorter projects. To supplement all of that and stay limber, we hiked the Amalfi Coast, ate and drank and sang and danced at the Lucianos’ grotto, had those same Lucianos back over Rosa for dinner, braved the monsoons of Pompeii, and defied death in Capri, forging friendships, eating pizzas, and finding lifelong readers along the way. If that all reads like the book jacket to a Boxcar Children’s book, well, that’s kind of what it felt like.
Tufo is a special place for sure, but none of this would have turned out the way it did without the amazing, industrious, intrepid, supportive bunch of writers we had out this year.
Linda Chavers is a lecturer in African American literature at Harvard. Her prose and poetry have appeared in places like The Rumpus and The Offing. On her time at WRiT, she says:
“The Writers Retreat in Tufo was a much needed break and recharge. I’ve been working on a memoir for some time and have struggled with the next steps for completion. The workshop gave me the focus and feedback I craved, and the setting gave me the balance I needed. I am left with so much gratitude and a longing to return.”
Nathan Alling Long is an associate professor of creative writing at Stockton University in New Jersey. He is a writer of short fiction and nonfiction, and his latest flash fiction collection, The Origin of Doubt, was published in Spring 2018. During WRiT, Nathan baked bread, led a writing exercise, and read two books–a history of salt and the latest by Simone Zelitch, our workshop leader, Judenstaat, a speculative novel about a Jewish state in former Germany, both of which reeducated him about the complex history of Europe.
Francis Whitesell works as a software engineer in Burlington, Vermont and has been writing fiction for over fifteen years, appearing in a few small presses. The collective creativity and expertise, diverse perspectives, and pristine setting of WRiT were just the inspiration Francis needed. He finished the first draft of his novel, Symphony, at the retreat.
Emma Dorsey is a midwife and fiction writer from Philadelphia whose work explores the intersection between language, justice, and the body. She’s pretty feminist. Emma used her time in Tufo to give some final TLC to a few stories she’s been carrying with her for too long. She enjoyed connecting with writers and discussing craft in such a beautiful place.
Manshreya Grover has a background in non-profit work in New Delhi and the United Kingdom, and is currently wrapping up her Masters in Liberal Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. On her efforts at WRiT she says,
“I worked on nonfictional stories that captured the disconnect between the head and the heart. There seems to be this wonderfully obtuse logic about “knowing better”, and that never seems to work so I wanted to capture narratives that would reflect that.”
Simone Zelitch is a long-time professor of creative writing at the Community College of Philadelphia, and the author of five novels, one of which, Louisa, The New York Times called a “stunningly good work.” In addition to leading our workshops in Tufo, Simone spent all of May 2018 in the house. She has this to say on her time in Rosa:
“I spent altogether a month and a half at Rosa di Tufo, the first month in solitude, the last weeks in the company of a wonderful group of writers. During that time, I was able to complete a full draft of a novel I’d been struggling with since 2011, certainly at least 80 thousand words. Frankly, this place works magic—particularly the little desk by the ping-pong table. When I couldn’t figure out how a plot-problem would get resolved, I’d look out from the balcony and ask the horse or donkey, walk up a road and get a little lost, or use the pigeon activity on the roof as a way to activate my imagination. I think what I wrote here is pretty good. I know the space is extraordinary.”