I recently had the pleasure of attending Jackee Batanda’s Success Spark Brand Writing Retreat on Bulago Island, and here are the top 10 reasons why I think you should be a part of the next one:
- They will accept you at whatever level of writing you find yourself. You don’t have to be published, or be an active blogger. You just need to have a passion for writing, and be willing to share and learn.
- You will spend five days with people who are natural born storytellers like yourself. For four nights, you will no longer be the outcast in the family who has decided to pursue a writing profession. Apart from the resourceful workshops, breakfast, lunch and dinner conversations will surprisingly become the highlight of your day. You will probably laugh like you have never laughed before, but remember Jackee has one rule, “what is spoken on the island stays on the island.”
- It’s a safe place to share your writing. Take it as a great opportunity to gain insights on your work from experienced facilitators like Nyana Kakoma of ‘Sooo Many Stories’, and other budding writers like yourself. The constructive criticism from the facilitators will help you start to polish your own unique style and voice.
- Jackee’s goal is to make sure that you actually get published. The facilitators will help you think through your writing goals, and consider publishing platforms that are relevant to your work. Rejoice! Your one-on-one mentoring session will occur on the beach and not some dingy classroom that was built in the 1970’s.
- You will most likely gain weight, but don’t panic because it is totally guilt free. Not once in the five days will you ever set foot in the kitchen to prepare a meal or to wash the dishes. The food cooked by the resident chef is so mouth-wateringly good, that it would be considered RUDE of you and the other participants not to gain weight. The chef makes fresh orange muffins for breakfast from scratch; no Nakumatt-bought cake mix is involved in the process at all! Take a minute to pause, smile, and fully grasp the meaning of the last few sentences, because during the retreat Jackee’s only task for you will be to focus on honing your writing skills. Alas, gaining weight is the only way you will be able to show your appreciation and gratitude to the chef who is working so hard in the kitchen to prepare your delicious meals.
- Prepare yourself to be mesmerized by the majestic sunrises and sunsets. Every day you’ll find yourself either standing by the window, or outside watching the sun like a zombie. I have a whole new kind of adoration and respect for God, and the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. In my head, I’d like to think that this island is the spot where God first told the sun to rise.
- For all you social media junkies, let me confirm that the internet does work on the island. We were not totally cut off from civilization. You can still access all your accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and share your wonderful experience with the friends and family members who told you not to come *wink wink*.
- Imagine falling asleep to the sound of waves at night, instead of the sound of the mosquitoes you usually fight with, or the prayer shouts from the local church, or even the road-side disco and bar. Just relax to the melodic sound of the waves as they entice you into dreamland, because it’s a well known fact that writers need their beauty sleep too.
- This is not a drug or alcohol fueled retreat! You should definitely leave behind in Kampala, the belief that you will find your muse while using illegal substances. We are all upstanding citizens, who just happen to be writers. So tell your Dad, Mum, your hubby and your wifey, that they can stop hyperventilating, you are not being abducted or brainwashed. All you need to do, is come prepared to take writing and storytelling seriously.
- You will return to your normal life and anxiously await for Jackee to announce the dates of the next writing retreat. You’ll have had so much fun, that these retreats will just have to become a permanent fixture on your annual calendar.
I’ve already booked my place at the next writing retreat, so make sure you contact Jackee and book yours. You can reach Jackee via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking forward to meeting you, and hearing your stories.