Michelle Town was one of our first guests at The Writing Retreat in November 2014. Michelle refers to herself as ‘a forty-something blind woman, who has had life throw itself at her.’ When she started writing a humorous blog in the form of emails about the daily tribulations she faced, more than one person encouraged her to take up writing seriously. Her sister spotted our retreat online but said she thought it might be beyond Michelle to travel the 300 miles to it on her own. Michelle’s response was ‘Watch me!’
Here is what happened next.
“I arrived at Rosemerryn in the pouring rain. I was early and sat in the kitchen, hearing the preparations unfolding around me. People started arriving in dribs and drabs. I have to concentrate quite hard to learn people’s voices and probably came across as a bit quiet (I’m not!).
The company seemed eclectic – a word sometimes used to describe something negative – but in this case it was an absolute joy. As far as I know we ‘retreaters’ had very little in common, not even our writing or where we wanted that writing to take us. There were some who wrote prose, some poetry, some short stories and some who dabbled in flash fiction. Now that was a term I had never heard of before; I’d only been at the Retreat for an hour and I was learning already.
The first evening was spent getting to know each other. Why were we here, what did we want to achieve? We were asked to describe ourselves in one alliterative word. Mine was ‘Mindful Michelle’. Why? Because I was very aware of where I was and I felt privileged to be in this company.
Dinner was three courses followed by a sumptuous cheese board, the smelliest and most delicious I have ever tasted. I’m on a high calorie diet and my dietitian would have been thrilled, had she known.
The mornings were spent in a workshop; a bit daunting perhaps when you are not used to formal learning, but it was actually great fun. One involved taking a phrase from a poem and then free writing a scenario from it, another one looked at scene setting and another at finding the voice that you want to portray, whether by using short, sharp sentences or longer rambling ones.
At times I felt out of my depth; everyone else seemed more proficient than me, but hey, I was here to learn and told myself to sit back and just absorb. And, wow, did I absorb! I have never experienced such a caring, supportive and amazing time in my life. Anyone thinking of going on this retreat shouldn’t ‘feel the fear, and do it anyway’ (as the annoying self help book says). No, they need to think, ‘Sod it, I can do this!’
I’ll be back.”