In 2014 author Elizabeth Berg put out a call to her super fans: build a writing retreat and I will come. 12 of us answered her call and so began an annual writing retreat at the Ralston White Retreat, a lovely mansion with a heart shape lawn on Mount Tamalpais in Mill Valley, CA. Although Elizabeth only joined us the first year, we continued to meet annually until the pandemic pulled us apart. 2023 is the year of our epic return and we look forward to building memories with a new group of talented writers!
WHO: The Ralston Writers WHAT: Writing Retreat WHEN: June 14-18, 2023 WHERE: Ralston White Retreat, Mill Valley, CA WHY: Write! Retreat! Rest! Rejuvenation! COST: The all-inclusive cost for 5 days and 4 nights ranges from approximately $800-$975
Writers will arrive at Ralston White after 3pm on Wednesday, June 14 and stay through breakfast on Sunday, June 18. We will have a lottery for room selection (rates will vary based upon the number of single or double rooms requested by writers) and then we will share a happy hour in the main foyer and living room in order to (re)connect with one another. Typically a dinner bell is rung around 6pm and we gather in the dining room for a lovely healthy meal cooked by none of us - one of the many perks of being on a retreat! However, it looks like Ralston White has yet to re-open their kitchen post-pandemic, so we will be calling in caterers for at least two meals a day. This is new territory for all of us, but the caterers come highly recommended by the staff at Ralston White, whom we trust implicitly.
In the evening we will gather in the living room again for wine and/or tea in order to formally introduce ourselves to one another. Each day thereafter will follow a similar schedule: wake at your leisure, write at your leisure, find a warm nook and cranny to cuddle up with a book, and/or go on a hike. We come together for meals and every evening after dinner we will curl up in the living room to listen to one another read our work. There is absolutely no judgment nor pressure around readings. Read if you want, or keep your writing private. Whatever works for you and where you are at in the moment. We are here to nurture a supportive environment for one another and for community and connection. Some people write more than others and that is ok! Make the retreat meaningful for yourself in whatever way meets your needs.
Let's take a quick moment to brag! We have had published novels that began at our retreat. We were the first "actors" to do a table read of a script that has since been turned into a pilot. We have had manuscripts that started and ended in our space, poetry that has flowed from our veins, personal essays that made us all cry, and letters written to loved ones while we were together. This happens in a special space that we create together by bringing our pens to our pages and sharing our words with one another. Doesn't that sound lovely and like absolutely what you need?
More Retreat Details Number of Writers: We have budgeted to have a minimum of 12 and maximum of 20 writers join us in 2023.
Room & Lodging: There are 5 rooms at Ralston that are designed to be single rooms. The other 8 bedrooms on the first and second floors are double and triple rooms. If we have more than 13 participants some people will have to share rooms as there are only 13 bedrooms on the first two floors at Ralston White Retreat. Note that we will have no more than two people share a room. Most people actually prefer to pay to stay in a single room even if they end up in a room designed for two or more people. You can view the floor plans here. We will have a lottery to select rooms at 4pm on the Wednesday of our arrival.
Meals: We will be bringing in caterers for at least two meals a day. We are currently budgeted to have catering for breakfast pastries, a full lunch, and a full dinner.
Cost: The total cost of the retreat depends upon the number of participants that we have in attendance as Ralston White Retreat's contract requires us to pay for lodging for a minimum of 15 people on the weekdays and 20 people on the weekends. This means that the total cost for lodging alone based upon 2022 rates is a minimum of $6550 all together. In addition, we have to pay for catering, gratuity, insurance, and incidentals, all of which add up to approximately $400 per guest. The amount that each individual will owe in total depends upon a variety of factors including how many writers we have splitting the cost and how many people are requesting single rooms. The more writers we have in residence, the lower the cost becomes for everyone (though some people will need to share rooms if we exceed 13 guests in the mansion). You can see a spreadsheet here that estimates the total cost per guest depending upon how many people join us from 12-20 people. In any scenario, the all-inclusive cost for the retreat for 5 days and 4 nights will range from approximately $815-$1030.
Note that nobody is earning money for this retreat! All of the funds we collect go toward the retreat itself. The perk of planning is that we have first choice for rooms before the lottery begins and we get to bring people together.
Deposit: All participants will need to pay a $150 deposit to secure their spot at the retreat. We will collect funds via Venmo.