Writing Retreat guest, Julia Webb-Harvey, looks back on her week

A thoughtful reflection on Julia’s writing retreat experience, published on her own blog and posted here with her kind permission. Thanks Julia.

My Writing Retreat

16 – 21 March 2015: Rosemerryn, Lamorna

The keeper of the Fogou

The Writing Retreat, is run by Kath Morgan and Jane Moss, writers and creative writing tutors based in Cornwall.  This was their second retreat, and they had one returning client – testament to their initial success.  Kath and Jane are both very accomplished, with different interests and emphases, giving a rich mix for the benefit of their clients. The focus of the week at Rosemerryn was The Craft of Writing.  There were workshops/classes each day, which you didn’t have to attend and space in the afternoons to write, or walk, or sit and hug the aga!

Like most writers heading for a retreat, I was hoping for space, inspiration and TLC for my writerly self.  I was not disappointed. I attended each of the workshops, others didn’t.  It didn’t matter.  The workshops were delivered at a marching pace – and therefore I think not for the beginner.  At times it felt there was an overwhelming amount of handouts, but examples enriched the learning.  All of the workshops were well thought out and well-structured, with a clearly signed path through each, and throughout the week.  My stand out session was on the short story structure – so much so that I went back to my room and blew the dust off an old story and tightened it in line with the model examined in class.  I think, to much better effect.  In addition to Kath and Jane, there was a guest presenter for the session on dialogue, with Jenny Alexander.  Jenny was very generous with herself, and gave a fascinating presentation on her own work the previous evening.  I learned a lot from simply being around her.  She encouraged me to write more and think less.

The table ready for dinner

It was important to our hosts, Kath and Jane, to ensure that we were well-nourished.   Breakfast was a help yourself, with just about everything you could wish for.  The warm kitchen at Rosemerryn was a lovely place to start the day, and had the feeling of being around a friend’s table.  Lunch also took place around the table, always a hearty soup and plenty of fresh salads and breads – and Kath’s epic Quiches.  Supper was a three-course affair, and the ‘rule’ of the week was that each client had to help out with kitchen duties one evening.  I enjoyed this immensely – there is something wonderful about preparing and sharing food.  The evening meals were outstanding, well navigated between various dietary requirements.  You could never go hungry on Writing Retreat.

Sennan Cove

We were blessed with a sunny week, not exactly warm, but generous for March in Cornwall.  There are a couple of lovely walks from Rosemerryn, including down to Lamorna Cove.  With a car, I was able to get across to Sennan Cove for a blast of sea air one afternoon.

The partial eclipse at The Merry Maidens

My highlights:

  • the one-to-one sessions offered by both Kath and Jane.  They were able to gather up the fragmented aspects of my writerly-self, poke around in the draft ideas of my WIP and give concrete suggestions and strategies to get writing.
  • Finding the Fogou at Rosemerryn, and in that, a mental place to banish my inner critic to.
  • Watching the partial eclipse at The Merry Maidens.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
  • The last evening together hearing each other read (and sing sea shanties).

The wisteria-climbing cat (on my uke!)

My lowlights:

  • Creaking backache from the workshop table – way too low to work at.
  • the wisteria climbing cat who wailed at my bedroom window to be let in, night and day.

The Writing Retreat delivered everything that I wanted from a writing week away, and my take away feeling is that I am walking taller as a writer.

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