Mapping Your Writer’s Journey


Exploring the Purpose, Pleasure, and Possibilities of Writing

July 7-14, 2019

Flat Rock, North Carolina

If you’ve ignored or denied a long-held desire to write, to fully express yourself—perhaps to share an untold story—then join us in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains to explore and reclaim your dreams of being a writer.

Lily pads float across the flat, cool waters of the private cove. The lake beyond glimmers between mighty maples, oaks, and pines.

Your surroundings are so still that time seems frozen and limitless. You snuggle the collar of your light jacket into your neck and breathe in the fresh morning air as you turn toward the woods.

Ahead, a meandering path winds up a gentle slope. You step slowly, avoiding a cluster of wild violets. A breeze whispers through the trees.

A glint of red passes overhead. The cardinal lands in a nearby magnolia and his call resonates in the hills. Winter’s leftover leaf-fall crunches underfoot. You draw another deep breath and realize the air is warming under the sun’s climbing glow. You begin to notice other details around you as, open-hearted and open-eyed, you receive what this morning has to give. Tranquility and nature’s glory surround you. More importantly, you feel a serenity inside as well—something that has eluded you for . . . how long?
As you absorb the sights, smells, and sounds of these woods, a peace settles so deeply upon you as to reach into your soul. You wonder if this is how Henry David Thoreau felt as he circuited Walden Pond. Reflecting on your day so far, you consider your morning writing and how—oddly—putting words on the page had felt like glorious shouting to the rooftops. It was an unexpected re-acquaintance with a clear and authentic voice you thought you’d forgotten how to use. Suddenly, you can’t wait to get back to your notebook. Inspired by your morning sojourn, you return to your writing desk and pull out your journal. Words flow freely, effortlessly, onto the page.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this whisper of inspiration before but have no idea where or how to find it again.

7 days with us at Highland Lake Cove can put you back on that path toward your dream of being a writer.

I need peace and inspiration. . . . I need to dream again!

During our time together, you will:

  • Renew and strengthen the connection to your muse.
  • Calm the inner disquiet of your story, thus far, untold.
  • Experience how walking can help you be more creative.
  • Be heard in a safe, non-judgmental, and supportive environment.
  • Identify and break through limiting beliefs that keep you from calling yourself a writer.
  • Create boundaries to surround your writing time and space with a protective shield against naysayers.

By the end of this retreat, you will have uncovered your “why” for wanting to write, identified daily rituals to summon your muse, experienced the sheer bliss of getting your words out and onto the page, and created a plan for a regular writing practice that will support and fulfill you for the rest of your life.

My creative spirit needs this.

“Ah,” you say, “I’d love to escape to the hills and just write, write, write. . . . but I’m just too busy.”

I can almost hear your mind chatter beginning . . . I get it. Because I’ve heard it too. But it doesn’t have to snuff out your dream!
  • Imagine what it would feel like to silence that inner critic who’s tried so persistently to squelch your creative spirit.
  • How great would it be to eliminate the push-pull of writing/not writing: one voice insisting you MUST write—and heaping on guilt when you don’t—and another claiming you have nothing worthwhile to say?
  • Wouldn’t it be amazing to banish that fear of judgment—from self and others—that won’t let you bring anything authentically you into the light of day?

Yes, all this is possible.

Our Writing Enclave

Imagine an escape to the mountains where there’s no one to take care of but yourself. Your home for 7 days will be the rustic Retreat House at Highland Lake Cove near the historic Village of Flat Rock, North Carolina. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Hendersonville, North Carolina, Highland Lake Cove extends across 58 acres with walking trails, gardens, a small working farm, and a 30-acre lake. During the retreat, you’ll have plenty of time to engage with other women writers, balanced with lots of opportunity for solitude. Each retreater will have her own private room with a twin bed, sink, writing desk, and rocker.
Each day will hold the opportunity for both communal and solitary walking on the grounds of Highland Lake Cove Retreat and Learning Center. We will walk to soak in the natural beauty surrounding us–the plants, the water, the critters both wild and tame, the sky, and the fresh mountain air. And we will walk to be inspired and rejuvenated. Every day, we’ll enjoy mouth-watering, farm-fresh meals from Highland Lake Cove’s own gardens. Our group will gather daily for meals, discussion, and writing in the adjacent Sanctuary in the Pines meeting space. Our cozy indoor and outdoor spaces will support the incredible magic that happens when women come together with a common purpose.

My muse and I are ready!

The Village of Flat Rock

Located just 30 miles south of Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Flat Rock, North Carolina, is filled with literary history, culture, and natural beauty. The village was established on a tremendous outcrop of granite, a site used for Cherokee gatherings. The lakes, fields, and streams in the area were used as fishing and hunting grounds by the Cherokee Nation.
After the American Revolution, merchants traded with the Cherokee on the “Great Flat Rock” so in 1807, the rock gave its name to the settlement growing up around it. Throughout the 19th century, Flat Rock was a place of respite for wealthy families from South Carolina and Europe, earning it the nickname “the Little Charleston of the Mountains.” Peace’s Store, now The Wrinkled Egg gift shop, was a favorite gathering place for locals to meet and discuss the issues of the day.

Little Rainbow Row

The heart of historic Flat Rock is now home to a collection of shops and restaurants known as Little Rainbow Row. One of the most famous landmarks in Flat Rock is Connemara, the home of author Carl Sandburg and a National Historic Site. The village is also home to the Flat Rock Playhouse, the State Theatre of North Carolina, where many popular actors of yesterday and today got their start. The entire Flat Rock district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I want to see this for myself!

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach . . .

~ Henry David Thoreau

Our Journey – What to Expect

From the moment you arrive, allow yourself to indulge in the peace and serenity of our writing enclave.

After settling into your private room, you’ll receive a warm welcome reception. Our time together will begin with an evening circle where we’ll start to step away from our ordinary existence and shake off the shackles of responsibility.

In the days to follow, there’ll be a focus on tending to your inner life, reclaiming your dreams, and listening to your own true voice.

Though each day will vary, most will include community circles, when we’ll explore the writing craft, discover writers we can learn from, and discuss writers we admire.

We’ll also explore many different types of writing both experientially and through reading. Some group gatherings will include writing prompts or inspiration pieces to write from when needed. These sessions are designed to draw out the authentic story your heart wants you to tell. We’ll have a day to explore the local Village of Flat Rock together. Most of our meals will be eaten together as well. You’ll have plenty of opportunity for alone-time, though, for peace and reflection, simply to be, or to write at your leisure.

We’ll take daily walks as a group, many in silence so you can hear your inner guidance, soak in the natural beauty of the outdoors, reconnect with yourself, and refill your creative well.

For it is when we nurture our muse and go within, away from the voices and demands of others, that our stories and our own voices rise.

Even after our time together comes to a close, the transformative writing you will have done, the relationships you will have forged, and the reconnection with your soul will endure and will continue to provide you with creative momentum.

I can’t miss this!

This journey is for you if you:

  • Can’t seem to make time to write even though it’s a persistent burning desire.
  • Know that writing is good for your soul but you’re afraid you aren’t doing it “right.”
  • Would love to try writing different things—perhaps essays, personal stories, a novel, or your memoir—but all of them feel too intimidating.
  • Feel guilty that you haven’t honored your dream to write.
  • Think you don’t have the skills or energy to pursue your dream.
  • Always feel stressed and have so much to do you can’t fit writing in your days.
  • Are anxious that your friends and family would feel neglected if you make time to write.
  • Have experienced the euphoria of inspiration in the past but have no idea how to reenter that state.
  • Are ready to open your heart and crack wide your soul to writing.

This retreat is NOT for you if you:

  • Are unable to leisurely stroll on an earthen path for at least 20 minutes a day.
  • Are seeking a workshop like any offered at writer’s conferences about the business of publishing, how to find an agent, or how to manage your commas and periods.
  • Choose to believe your dream of being a writer has already passed you by.
  • Prefer to default to distractions like television, alcohol, and social media rather than writing.

I’m ready to reclaim my dream of being a writer!

What’s Included:

  • Accommodations for 7 nights at Highland Lake Cove
  • A private single room including your own writing desk
  • Free wi-fi in your room and common areas
  • Group sessions, mini-workshops, and other teachings
  • Delicious, farm-fresh buffet-style meals, including breakfast every morning, four lunches, and supper every evening
  • A group outing into the Village of Flat Rock
  • And more!

What Isn’t Included:

  •  Air and ground transportation to/from the Retreat Center
  • Two lunches, which will be in or near the Village of Flat Rock
  • Personal, medical, or trip cancellation insurance
  • Souvenir shopping, other activities or outings not specifically listed or organized by the retreat leader

I’m packing now.

The Benefits of Joining This Gathering

At this retreat, you will:
  • Bask in self-kindness and the support of like-minded women.
  • Stop moving and doing, so you can listen and hear your inner voice.
  • Peel back the layers of accommodation, pretense, and compromise you carry every day.
  • Reconnect and connect more deeply with your authentic self.
  • Step away from having to please others so you can simply be who you are.
  • Receive permission to make your longings and desires priority.
  • Soften any fears you may have about being alone and going deep inside.
  • Acknowledge the stories that are yours to tell.
  • Create a personal map for moving forward with a writing practice that works for you.

Yes, this gathering of women is for me!

About Your Retreat Leader Gina Edwards

My writer’s journey—perhaps not unlike yours—has been a bumpy one. I spent decades studying and attempting to be a writer with the rest of my life whirling around me. My writing practice was on-again/off-again/on-again. And it was never enough. Finally, one sleepless and angst-filled night led me to the inevitable decision to step away from the “security” of the corporate world so I could uplift other women writers—women like me longing to make writing a meaningful part in their lives, and women who understand how the writing can make meaning of their lives. Two simple philosophies show up in everything I do with writers:
  • First, you never have to travel your writer’s journey alone. Writing is inherently solitary, but that doesn’t mean you always have to be alone, without encouragement, motivation, or feedback. If you’re having trouble finding your “tribe” and knowing who you can turn to and trust, then you’re in the right place.
  • The second principle is your writing life, on your terms. That is, I hold space for all authors to live a writing life on terms they define for themselves rather than one based on the pressures and expectations of community, family, and/or industry. Wherever you are in your writer’s journey, I will meet you there.

I also walk the writer’s path with you, continuing to cultivate my own writing skills so I can apply them to my work-in-progress. My purpose in my own writing as well as in my business, my life’s work, is to give a voice to the voiceless and to empower women to share their untold stories.

Still have questions? We have answers.

I don’t know how I feel about staying a full week with total strangers.

Most women come to the retreat without knowing other attendees. But I guarantee, you’ll leave with a new tribe of supportive wise women. As soon as you register, you’ll be invited into two groups: the private Facebook group for everyone who has been a student, retreater attendee, or client of Around the Writer’s Table, and our smaller private retreat group where you’ll meet other like-minded retreat attendees. You’ll get to know the other participants as we share our dreams, challenges, and excitement about traveling the writer’s journey together. Before we all meet in North Carolina, I’ll be hosting a group call so you can ask questions and get to know each other even better.
The energy of women joined for a common purpose was compelling. The compassion of the other writers freed me. This retreat was so good for me. There was a sense of “completion” here, also – the free time to be out in nature, or writing, sleeping – to care for your soul.
Jeanette Lavoy

I’m always sooo busy. Will there be a chance for relaxation and time for myself?

You bet there will! I’ve designed this retreat with a balance of writing time, learning, and downtime. Organized writing sessions are typically held in the morning for one to two hours, with some sessions in the afternoons. Depending on group engagement and the activities that will go along with the writing, some days may be busier than others. But you’ll also have plenty of free writing time and “me” time. While I doubt you’ll want to miss any of the activities or sessions, you always have the option to relax in your room or on the Sanctuary porch, or take walks in the woods or by the lake.

I’m not an experienced writer. Would this retreat be a waste of my time?

Experience is not required. Anyone who has a burning desire to write is welcome with open arms, whether you’re writing now or not. I always meet writers where they are. This is your journey, so together, we’ll assure that you create a writing practice on your terms and in a way that serves you.

This venue looks rustic. Aren’t retreats supposed to be in exotic places?

Granted, there are plenty of expensive retreats in fancy locales but, well, that’s not this one and that’s not me (you’ll understand what I mean when we meet each other). More importantly, I hand-picked our retreat venue for some important benefits it provides. Nature and the outdoors play a vital role in our ability to get quiet so we can hear our inner voice; in turn, the ability to truly listen to that voice allows us to honor and act on the ideas that we’re gifted.

From a practical standpoint, I want every attendee to have a comfortable, private indoor space for rest and, if desired, time alone. As you’ll see, Highland Lake Cove will give us all these things.

How strenuous will our walks be?

Ambling, meandering, or wandering explorations could more accurately describe these walks. Walks related to the teachings are usually 20 minutes, longer if you like, and are mostly on level, private, dirt roads and earth pathways. We will walk daily, often as a group. Trails and walkways weave throughout the property and nearby, so you can explore on your own as well.

Am I required to take the writer’s walks?

While we would never make anyone to do something beyond their physical abilities, the walks are gentle, quiet times integral to the teachings and retreat experience. If a leisurely 20-minute stroll through the woods is more than you can manage, or just isn’t your “thing,” perhaps you’d like to explore our other offerings or stay in touch for updates about retreats more suited to you.

I’d rather fly to North Carolina than drive. What airport should I fly into?

The closest airport to Flat Rock is the Asheville Regional Airport, only 16 miles north of our retreat house. More than a half-dozen car rental companies operate at the airport and taxis and other ground transportation options are available for the short drive down Interstate 26 to our house at Highland Lake Cove. Alternatively, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is approximately one-and-a-half hours away, while Hartsfield International in Atlanta is a three-hour drive away.

Can I arrive early or stay longer?

That’s a great idea! Western North Carolina has a rich literary history. Follow the tracks of local writers and other authors who have spent time in the area, especially around Asheville, which is often called the Sedona of the East. Enjoy the vibrant arts scene downtown and in the River Arts District, and throughout the surrounding towns and communities. Commune with nature by hiking the mountainsides or exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway. There’s plenty to see and do and we’re happy to offer additional suggestions. If you feel particularly inspired, stay for an extra week to two!

What will the weather be like in July?

Daytime July temperatures in Flat Rock average in the low to mid 80s, while nighttime temperatures are in the low 60s. A sweater might be needed in the mornings. July isn’t a particularly wet month, but don’t forget rain gear in case we have showers.

Yes, Gina, my heart needs this.

I still have questions. Is there someone I can talk to directly?

Of course! Reach out to me anytime at and we’ll set a time to talk by phone about your questions and concerns.

What are you waiting for?

** Kitty not included.