Sister Scribes: Cass Grafton on why it’s good to talk

Recently, I was on a writing retreat – one that lived up to its name, being only accessible by boat at high tide (or after a hike through the woods from the nearest village). Hosted by Kath Morgan and Jane Moss of The Writing Retreat, the theme was simply ‘Time to Write’, which we had in abundance.

There were only 6 of us, and we soon developed our favourite spots for contemplation and scribing: at the wooden table by the creek, in the large window seat in the sitting room or even on the pontoon jutting out into the river.

I wrote in my room during the day, either in my own window seat with its fabulous water views or at the desk I’d tugged into place between the window and the extremely large bed (known as Robert Plant’s bed – long story, but there’s also a recording studio under the main house)!

Despite the obvious benefits of a retreat – that longed-for chance to focus on nothing but writing, allowing your mind to wander, your characters to fully take hold of you and the story in a way they often can’t when you’re surrounded by the minutiae of daily life – I was able to indulge in something else: time to talk, not only with fellow writers (usually over the yummy lunches and dinners) but also during one-to-one sessions with Kath or Jane.

These sessions brought answers to dilemmas I’d spent months battling with: what’s my hook; how do I finish this book that’s been almost done for months; what do I write next? Talking it through, being heard, was all it took for solutions to come, often prompted by the tutors’ insights. I left every one-to-one on a high, inspired and raring to get back to the writing.

This hasn’t been my only chance to talk face-to-face with other writers, of course. Aside from get-togethers with my fellow Sister Scribes, I’ve been co-writing with Ada Bright (for her guest post on being an author, see link below) for years, and despite the thousands of miles and 9-hour time difference separating us, we talk when writing 3 or 4 times a week. We discuss plot, why a character is behaving in such a way, battle out the things we’re struggling with, and we laugh. There’s a lot of laughter!

Do you begin to see the benefit of the talking? Writing can be such a solitary profession. Things go round and round in your head, we hit stumbling blocks, trip over our own words, lose faith, regain it, sometimes question whether we love what we’re doing, whether we should even continue.

Living in Switzerland, as I do, can also be isolating – I can’t meet up with my Sister Scribes as often as I’d like – so imagine my delight when I connected with 3 other British writers who regularly meet up for ‘writerly lunches’! They all pen fabulous psychological suspense novels, with Louise Mangos (@LouiseMangos) published by HQ Digital, Alison Baillie (@alisonbailliex) by Bloodhound Books and Linda Huber (@LindaHuber19), who has a wide portfolio, by Bloodhound Books and their imprint, Bombshell Books. She also writes light romance novels under the name of Melinda Huber.

Aside from lunch and laughter, we share our thoughts and feelings on the sort of things writers value talking about: practical experiences, both in writing and publishing, our ups and downs, our current challenges and our plans for ‘what next’. Oh yes, and there’s the odd glass of Prosecco too!

So write and enjoy it. Embrace it, but if you get the chance, talk to other writers, preferably face to face. You won’t regret it!

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About Kath Morgan

I'm a writer and creative writing tutor, living and working in beautiful Cornwall. Lucky me...
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