That was the retreat that was: March 2016

Well, what a week we had down at Rosemerryn on our Craft of Writing retreat. Here’s a run-down of how it all went.


By Monday we were ready for our guests to arrive, spring flowers in bloom, welcome pressies wrapped and ready. We love hearing the crunch of tyres on gravel, our first sign that guests are arriving. This time they came from as close as Cornwall and as far afield as Portugal.

With everyone settled in, we banished our inner critics to the fogou and got to work on creating characters who would stay with us through the week. As anyone who has been to The Writing Retreat knows, the week is punctuated regularly and robustly with food, and the first evening endeavours were rewarded with Jane’s fabulous fish pie and a ratatouille alternative for the veggies among us.

By Tuesday morning we were in full swing. A fortifying breakfast set us up for workshops on Plot and Point of View; a lot to think about, but the studio buzzed with conversation as our guests rose to the challenge. By now, dragons had emerged and criminals were turning out to be more complicated than you might think.

By Tuesday afternoon, our guests were starting to explore the lovely grounds and footpaths. Rosemerryn’s ancient woodland and gushing stream are truly magical, and the beaches in this part of Cornwall are stupendous. Ginny the retreat dog was happy to play tour guide. In the meantime, Kath and Jane started their afternoon ritual of one-to-one sessions.

It was a dark and stormy night… with the trees whistling and rustling around us in a force 8 gale that was not graced with a name by the Met Office, but that nonetheless gave our guests a taste of true Cornish weather. On Wednesday morning, with the storm still blowing outside, we hunkered down in the warm bright studio for a workshop on dialogue. Voices were added to the different points of view we had tried yesterday, and our characters came alive on the page.

Dinner was a tasty and warming lamb tagine followed by a luscious tiramisu. We were joined for dinner by our guest author for the week, the super talented Angie Sage. Angie talked to us afterwards about how she journeyed from being a jobbing illustrator to being a New York Times best selling author.

On Thursday, Angie ran a workshop on Settings, and we experimented with using the senses to create settings that breath life into characters and their situations. As usual, there was lunch to get through – tough, we know – followed by time to write, walk, think or dream.  Evening found us enjoying fish and chips down at The Wink.

Then it was Friday, our last full day. And it was a packed one: a workshop on Show and Tell, the last of the afternoon one-to-ones, a final celebratory dinner, a toast with home made sloe gin (thank you, Annie), and readings around the fire. This is always a favourite night of ours, we love hearing what everyone has been up to and listening to all those voices emerging.

Saturday came, and our guests were off, back to their lives and the challenges of keeping the momentum going out there in the ‘real’ world. During the week, breakthroughs had been experienced, writing paths had changed direction, and unexpected discoveries had been made. Already, emails of support are flying back and forth between the group, encouraging each other to keep at it. Sometimes, that’s all it takes, the right word of encouragement at the right moment.


Keep in touch.



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