Guest contributor: Jim Roberts

Getting Outside Saturday: When Bill and Dave Came to Doe Branch

categories: Cocktail Hour / Getting Outside

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A meeting of minds at Doe Branch.

Doe Branch Ink is a writers’ retreat in the Blue Ridge mountains north of Asheville, NC.  Bill and Dave know the place and have left their mark on the writing lives of participants from around the country.  Cocktail hour at Doe Branch is part of the fun, but the fun is serious when it comes to sharing work in progress, getting feedback on a tricky passage, or cuddling up with a hot cup of coffee at first light to get the night’s ideas on paper.    Bill and Dave are inimitable, but we’ve seen the magic too of other accomplished writer-teachers working with their small groups, sharing inspiration, confidence and wisdom.   And we’ve seen our guests leaving their new friends with new energy for writing and new confidence in their goals.   If this sounds good to you, consider spending a week at Doe Branch at a facilitated workshop – fall sessions start October 21, and we’ll have workshops next spring starting mid-May.   Visit for details.    Here’s a first-hand account of a week at Doe Branch with the two masters:

Jim Roberts kicking back.

A week at Doe Branch Ink is a marvelous blend of inspiration, natural beauty and interaction with fellow writers from across the land.  In our group they came from Minnesota, New Jersey, Arkansas, North Carolina, Georgia and New York.

Their geographic homes, literary goals and seasoned experiences made even the most casual conversations intensely interesting.  Dave Gessner and Bill Roorbach, our team of writers-in-residence, are a brilliantly qualified duo who also happen to be extremely entertaining and personable.  Their structured morning sessions covered a vast range of knowledge about the business of writing along with individual critiques and guidance that resonated not only with the person center stage but had all others furiously writing down nuggets of knowledge to post on the walls of our writing caves.  My favorite, “Writing a book is the hardest thing I have ever done,” said Dave.  I thought I was the only person who believed that.

On arrival the natural beauty of the setting stopped me.  The main lodge is near the top of a mountain graced with a long range view across a valley and meadow laced with a creek that eventually flows into the French Broad River.  Multiple trails beckon you into the woods. A natural bonus is we hit peak blooming season for rhododendron.  June weather did not disappoint.

Dave on the porch

Our comfortable accommodations offered privacy and respite.  This, in keeping with our goals for the week, communicated that we were here for a serious undertaking, not a plush resort vacation.  The food was healthy and consistently good.

A Carolina spiderweb near Doe Branch Creek

Morning sessions with Dave and Bill bristled with lively conversation, critiques and discussion.  The mood of our unstructured afternoons was clearly business and off we went to a chosen spot to write away.  The dedication exuded by several writers encouraged us all to assert discipline.  The one-on-one critiques, mine with Dave, was informative, direct and encouraging.  I came to Doe Branch looking for inspiration and motivation.  I got it in spades.

My week and experience at Doe Branch was extremely beneficial–I would strongly recommend it to my friends and may go again.

Judie R., Summer 2012


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