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Narrative Alchemy

Have you lived through something that is calling to be written about? Unsure where to start? Hungry for some luxurious quiet in which to focus? Over the course of this immersive workshop weekend, celebrated writers and teachers Melissa Febos and Suleika Jaouad will lead participants through a study in the craft of short, autobiographically inspired narratives. Such works are some of the hardest to write well and the easiest to publish. They are often the seedlings from which great books are grown. Through close readings of master texts, brief craft lectures, and generative exercises, Melissa and Suleika will help you get a running start. Then, you'll have the gift of time and space to write in our gorgeous location. In your downtime, enjoy delicious organic meals, evening readings, and strolls through beautiful Hudson. Meet with visiting magazine editors and take a yoga, pilates or barre class! By the retreat's end, you will have produced your own complete draft and received feedback to help guide your revision. This retreat presents a rare opportunity to work with two exceptional talents in such an intimate, nurturing environment. Open to creative nonfiction, autobiographical fiction writers, and prose poets.


Suleika Jaouad

Suleika is an award-winning writer, speaker and advocate. She wrote the acclaimed "Life, Interrupted" column and video series in the New York Times, which earned her a News & Documentary Emmy Award. Her reported features and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, NPR, Vogue and Glamour. She is the author of Between Two Kingdoms, a highly anticipated memoir forthcoming from Random House. Suleika's advocacy work and speaking engagements have taken her everywhere from the United Nations and the Today Show, to a two-room schoolhouse in rural Montana. When she's not on the road with her Volkswagen camper van and rescue mutt Oscar, she lives in Brooklyn.


Melissa Febos

Melissa is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a Best Book of 2017 Febos is the inaugural winner of the Jean Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the recipient of the 2017 Sarah Verdone Writing Award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute, and Ragdale. Her work has recently appeared in Tin House, Granta, The Believer, and The New York Times. She lives in Brooklyn.  

Visiting Editors

On Monday, February 18th, renowned editors Sari Botton, of Longreads, and Rebecca Wolff, of Fence and Fence Books, will join us for a Lunch & Learn. Attendees will be able to ask their most probing questions about submitting to literary journals, magazines, and small presses. These editors are also accomplished writers—and can offer insights from both sides of the masthead. Get insider tips on what top editors really want in a friendly, low-key setting.


Sari Botton

Sari is a writer living in Kingston, New York; Essays Editor for Longreads; editor of the award-winning anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NY and its New York Times-Bestselling follow-up, Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for NY; and operator of Kingston Writers' Studio. 

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Rebecca Wolff

Rebecca is the author of four books of poems, most recently One Morning-- , one novel called The Beginners, and numerous pieces of occasional prose. She is at work on a prose book called Show Me How You Got Lost. She founded the literary magazine and press called Fence in 1998. Born in 1967 in Chelsea, New York City, she has been a citizen of Columbia-Greene since 2005. Wolff is the recipient of fellowships from various residencies and institutions, including most recently the Whiting Magazine Award for Fence.

 Narrative Alchemy Schedule

Narrative Alchemy is a four-day generative writing workshop spanning Presidents’ Day weekend. Participants will attend in-depth workshops and literary discussions, take in readings, and enjoy plenty of solo writing time. This workshop includes chic accommodations and gourmet food. A detailed schedule is here.

Rates & Policies

We’ve partnered with the wonderful Drop Forge and Tool for our Spring 2019 workshops and retreats. Meals, workshops and lectures are held at the Warren Street headquarters—an immaculately renovated historic building—just steps away from restaurants, bars and our our favorite indie bookstore. Beautiful private rooms—each with their own writing desks—are located on the second and third floors, along with two full bathrooms, and lovely common areas, including a brand-new kitchen. A second residency space, boasting a few more private bedrooms along with a kitchen, living room and full bath is a short walk or drive away—perfect for those who crave a bit more solitude in the evenings. View a slideshow of our accommodations here.


Private rooms: $975.00 includes private room with writing desk, coffee tea and snacks throughout, dinner Friday night, and breakfast/lunch Saturday-Monday.

Semi-private room: $850.00 a large, shareable room with a dividing curtain that can be pulled during writing or sleeping hours. a great choice for two friends or a couple. includes two writing desks, coffee, tea and snacks throughout, dinner Friday night, and breakfast/lunch Saturday-Monday.

shared room: $800.00 A cozy room with two twin beds and a writing desk. A wonderful choice for friends or collaborators. Includes coffee, tea and snacks throughout, dinner Friday night, and breakfast/lunch Saturday-Monday.

local: $650.00 For hudson valley or upstate locals who’ll return home each night. Includes coffee, tea and snacks throughout, dinner Friday night, and lunch Saturday-Monday.

Manuscript consultation: $200.00 attendees may elect to add a private consultation with Melissa febos or Suleika jaouad. details about this offer will be sent by email, post-registration.

Cancellation Policy

Because of our incredible teachers and limited space, we expect this workshop to sell out quickly. Cancellations are both disruptive and time consuming, so please only enroll if you are certain of your ability to attend.

Cancellation by January 1st: Full refund.

Cancellation by January 15th: 50% refund.

Cancellation after January 15th: No refund.