Jacqueline Doyle is a professor at California State University, East Bay, where she teaches creative writing and literature. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Southern Humanities Review, PANK, Confrontation, South Dakota Review, Quarter After Eight, Cold Mountain Review, and elsewhere. She has earned two Pushcart nominations, a Best of the Net nomination, and Notable Essay citations in Best American Essays 2013 and Best American Essays 2015.
Did the retreat at Inman Family Wines meet your expectations?
The retreat far exceeded my expectations. I wasn’t sure how much I could accomplish in a week, but I started and finished a near-to-final draft of something new, had great fun with my two writer-friends/co-residents, ate well, worked well, slept well, and left refreshed physically and creatively.
What was the most unexpected part of your stay?
How stunningly beautiful the Sonoma Wine Country is. The view at dawn from the front porch of our farmhouse at Inman Family Wines was breathtaking.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of your retreat?
It’s always exciting to get in the zone when you’re writing, and often there’s not enough uninterrupted time for that. The beauty of the setting and the profound quiet (interrupted only by a rooster crowing) were inspiring and spiritually nourishing. One day when I worked at the table outside I didn’t knock off until it was already dark!
What did you work on during the retreat? In what ways did the vineyard setting inspire you and/or your writing?
I’m working on a collection of memoir-essays, and substantially finished a new one about my brother. My brother and I spent days on the lake and in the woods as children, and though the setting was very different (no fireflies in the Russian River Valley, no vineyards in northern New Jersey), being outdoors in such a beautiful natural setting helped me to remember sensory details.
What other activities did you do during the retreat—any napping, hiking, or exploring the local area?
Lots of walks, and visits to the newborn lambs down the street. The vineyards stretch in all directions; the light was so different at dawn, at midday, at sunset. One of my roommates, an avid biker, took some long bike rides. Cooking together was fun. The three of us also had a great dinner at the Underwood Bar and Bistro in nearby Graton to celebrate our good fortune.
Did you participate in any activities or events arranged by the host winery?
My two roommates, Alia Volz and Monica Nolan, both loved the wine tasting (I don’t drink!), and had a wonderful chat with Kathleen Inman, our gracious hostess. They’re both fairly knowledgeable about wines, and were very impressed by Inman’s Pinot Noir, which they happily drank with our dinner that night.
Do you have any advice or tips for future applicants that wish to apply for a co-residency and work together?
All three of us have been in the same writing group in San Francisco for a long time, so we are very familiar with each other’s work. That was a plus, since we could give each other well-informed advice. (Also answers to those urgent questions that begin, “I’m looking for a word . . .”) The Inman farmhouse is wonderfully roomy. We each found our private retreats for work during the day.