Getting ready for an autumn retreat

Summer has left us much faster than we would like but we have the pleasures of an autumn retreat to look forward to in the far west of Cornwall; our fifth anniversary return to Rosemerryn.

On that first Retreat, held at Rosemerryn in November 2014, we drastically over catered. Yes, even for us! Guests from that wonderful week still giggle about how they’d waddled home fatter, happier, and further along with their writing projects than they’d ever imagined possible.  It is hard to believe that was five years and twice as many retreats ago.

Now, of course, we’re old hands, so as we sit here today, checking through our guests’ dietary details and planning the food side of things, we know exactly how to put together a menu that will have everybody feeling indulged and  satisfied without the need to purchase a new wardrobe. Those who have been on retreat with us before will find  a blend of old favourites and new tastes to enjoy. Those who are joining us for the first time are in for a treat.

It’s not all about the food of course (actually it sooooo is). Next week, we’ll be working on the workshops. But for now, bring on the wine list and the cheese board…

Kath and Jane

Summer Sundays 2019 – starting soon

The Writing Retreat is getting ready for our Summer Sunday series of day retreats at Mylor Yacht Club, and we wanted to let you know that there are still some spaces at the table. We’d love you to join us.

Sunday 19th May     –     Finding your story through theme

Sunday 16th June    –     Finding your story through character

Sunday 14th July     –     Finding your story through setting

The day includes lunch and all refreshments. We look forward to sharing a day of stimulating writing, delicious food and fine company.

If would like to attend, please fill in the form here or drop us an email at thewritingretreat@btinternet.com. We hope you have a productive and enjoyable summer and that we can catch up again soon.

Warm wishes,

 

Kath Morgan and Jane Moss

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!

Winter Sunday Retreat – Playing With Point of View

Roll up, roll up! Our next Winter Sunday is on Sunday 17 March and our theme is Playing with Point of View. The question for the day is, whose story is it anyway? Learn techniques to help you try on different voices and to judge which point of view will serve your story best.

Venue: Devoran Village Hall, 9.45am-4.00pm.

You can book your place here.

See you there,

Kath and Jane

The Old Sawmills

A big thank you to Julia for writing up her reflections on retreating at The Old Sawmills last month. We loved the week and can’t wait to do it again. Watch this space for 2019 dates coming soon. 

Joining The Writing Retreat was my reward to myself for having successfully completed a degree in English and Creative Writing. Kath and Jane’s retreat at The Old Sawmills seemed an appropriate prize for all my hard work.

I had heard and read about the perfect peace at these retreats, and about the inspirational workshops run by Kath, Jane and guest speakers. I knew there would be time to write, like-minded companions and lots of advice and guidance available. I had even heard about the amazing food! But it wasn’t until only days before I set off, that I began to consider the enormity of what I was about to undertake, and the potential talent and experience of those I would be joining. How could I compete?

The truth, as I discovered, was that this was not a competition. There were no comparisons drawn, no pressure to share our writing unless we wished to, and we were all working on very different projects. What we did have was the companionship of people who share our passion for word craft and an opportunity to just write. No distractions, no excuses for displacement activity, not even a phone line or mobile signal. The outside world would have to cope without us for a few days.

The first clue we had to just how isolated The Old Sawmills would be, came with our joining instructions: we were told to wear stout shoes or boots and to bring a torch. On arrival at Par railway station, we took a taxi to the village of Golant, which lies on the River Fowey. Here the road runs out. We were escorted along a footpath through the woods to the house, some 20 minutes walk from the village. Our luggage joined us later, brought by boat on the high tide. The adventure had begun.

Sawmills has a recording studio. Over the years, numerous musicians have come here to make albums, and their creativity haunts the place. I was inspired also by the evidence that Kenneth Graham had visited this secret creek as he conjured up the tale of Mole, Ratty and Toad, and in the process encapsulated some quintessential essence of rural England. Tales of pirates and shipwrecks seem to lurk among the trees that hide the creek from prying eyes. Their spirits inspired a dark tale of foul deeds set in the village and in the very building where we sat by the fire and shared pieces of our work on the final evening after supper.

Although outside it was chilly and damp, the beauty of the scenery surrounding us more than compensated, as we watched the ebb and flow of the tide below the house and the wind tearing at the trees. The opposite bank glowed with autumnal colours when we arrived but was left stripped and denuded by the following Saturday. Despite the weather, we all ventured out at some point for some fresh air and a bit of exercise. One afternoon, Lin and I set off after lunch and spent the entire walk discussing our respective stories. On my return home, I could not wait to tell my husband Duncan about his namesake in Lin’s children’s story about a green dinosaur with pink spots.

Some people came specifically to grapple with their particular WIP, away from the humdrum demands of day-to-day life. I joined the workshops and took full advantage of the hour-long 1:1 consultations on offer. I learned a lot about the different structure and shape of the various story forms: the short story, the novella and the full length novel. The balance between workshops and time just to write was perfect for me. There was no need to worry about life support. Everything was taken care of by Jane, Kath and the lovely Kim, and we were pampered and cosseted from breakfast right through to chocolates and port in the evening.

I had brought along the basis of a short story I wrote two years ago, which even then felt too big a tale for the short story form. Perhaps it was a potential novella? By the end of the week, with encouragement, guidance and constructive questioning from both Kath and Jane, I was seriously beginning to wonder if I have the basis of a novel. The main protagonist changed his name and with it, unnervingly, his persona. Characters and settings became solid and took on a life of their own, sending the story off in directions I had never considered. Other characters materialised unexpectedly and transformed the tale still further. It was amazing, thrilling and unbelievably exciting. Now that I am home, the challenge I face is to take the time needed to bring my story to life. I’m excited.

 

The Writing Retreat Winter Newsletter 2018

Another year that was and will be

2017 was another busy year for us at The Writing Retreat, with guests coming and going from all over the UK as well as America, Austria, and Switzerland. It was, as always, a pleasure to meet new faces, and a very special pleasure to welcome back old friends.

In March we were back at Rosemerryn in Lamorna, Penzance, huddled into the woodland setting and learning about the Craft of Writing. Our guest writer was novelist and short story writer, Tom Vowler, who fired up our imaginations and helped us create atmospheric and engaging settings, aided by the magical surroundings and great sense of camaraderie amongst our guests.

In November, we revisited the beautiful National Trust house at Bosloe, over-looking the Helford. Guests were again wowed by the charm of the house and its stunning sea views.  Our theme for this retreat was Life Writing, and the house sang with stories of every kind, some hilarious, others touching, many a mixture of both those things. Our guest author was travel writer Philip Marsden, who was wonderfully generous with his support and encouragement.

The year ahead:

As the world continues to spin around us (nobody can say that 2018 was a boring year) we are grateful to have these lovely moments to look forward to, when we drop out of the world with all its noise and multiple demands, and retreat into a community of writers and writing. Do join us in 2018 to take time out, breathe, and restock your writer’s (and personal) energy banks. You’ll be made very welcome.

Writing The Short Story retreat at Rosemerryn, 5-11 March 2018

We’ll be back at Rosemerryn in March 2018, as will Tom Vowler. This time we’ll be focusing the week around The Short Story, a genre that Tom would agree is his instinctive writing space. Learn the essential ingredients of writing short stories including idea and theme, and how to develop your story. During the week we will work with short structures from 1,000-3,000 words, and even shorter flash fiction. Do get in touchhere if you would like to book yourself into one of our remaining places on that retreat.

Writing Fiction: The long and the short of it12-17 November 2018

As we continue to build our portfolio of spaces to host retreats in, we will be launching another new venue in November at Woodlands Manor Farmnear Bude. The location of this comfy venue will shave a good chunk of time off the journey for those travelling down to us from up country (and pretty well everywhere is up country from Cornwall!) and has the interesting added bonus of a heated indoor swimming pool. During this week, you will work on aspects of both long and short fiction, and consider what you need to know to really craft your work well. We will be putting this retreat, and this venue, onto our website within the next week, but in the meantime, you are the first people to hear about it, so if you want to pre-register, just drop us an email atthewritingretreat@btinternet.com.

Other news

This summer we will be running daytime retreats in Falmouth (initially) on a range of subjects, so do keep an eye on our website for these as dates are confirmed. If you ‘like’ or ‘follow’ us on our websiteFacebook page, or Twitter account, you’ll be among the first to hear about them.

We love to keep in touch with our guests and hear what you’ve all been up to, so if you have any writing related news you would like to share, please drop us a line. We’d be thrilled to hear how you are getting along.

Warmest winter wishes,
Kath and Jane.

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