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

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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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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

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Winter Sunday Retreat – Show and Tell

This gallery contains 6 photos.

We could tell you all about our Winter Sunday retreat at Devoran yesterday, about the lovely people who came, how hard they worked, how much food they ate etc! But we’d rather show you… Thanks to everyone who came and … Continue reading

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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.

 

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An autumn feast

It’s aThe Old Sawmills few weeks now since we were at our autumn retreat in the gorgeous Old Sawmills on the Fowey River. This waterside venue was a first for us; not only further east than we’ve been before but completely away from the world in a house that can only be reached by water or foot. Transporting ourselves and a week’s worth of provisions was an adventure, as was escorting our guests along the autumnal wooded path that leads from the nearby village of Golant to the little tidal creek beside which the Old Sawmills stands.

The peace and quiet was complete. Each day we saw the trees turn more golden as the nights drew in a little more. Our little writing community of eight got down to work and the house hummed with ideas. Outside, wading birds picked their way along the shore; we looked for otters but didn’t see the shy creatures.

45837046_1950414651713946_4413627845000036352_nAs usual on our retreats, the mornings were devoted to workshops and writing, the afternoons to more writing, and one to ones in which we heard a wonderful selection of drafts, stories, memoirs and plans. Our guests never fail to amaze us with their creativity and skill. As the week continued, everything seemed to grow; a short story turned into an outline for a novella, an opening was reworked, a work of non-fiction was mapped out and became achievable in the mind of its author. We were reminded every day why we love hosting these weeks.

Evenings were our time to gather round the dinner table, full of lively chatter, accounts of the day and excitement about the rest of the week. On the final evening, we asked which recipe everyone had enjoyed the most; debate ensued, was it Kath’s brownies, Jane’s soup, the venison sausages in redcurrant sauce or the stroganoff? In the end the chicken cider casserole won. Here it is, with ingredients for six people.

Ingredients:

  • 6 large chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons of light olive oil
  • About 10 button mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4 leeks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • A bag of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • I large pot of crème fraiche, half fat
  • 2 teaspoons of English mustard
  • 2 bottles of Rattlers apple cider
  • New Cornish potatoes and green beans to accompany the chicken

Method:

  1. Lightly flour the chicken and brown in some olive oil and butter on all sides. Set aside
  2. Add the garlic, leeks and mushrooms to the pan and saute until lightly brown
  3. Add the chicken pieces, toss together, add the cider and braise until cooked through (about 30 minutes)
  4. Turn the heat up to reduce some of the liquid
  5. Add the crème fraiche and mustard, stir and warm through. Check for seasoning
  6. Just before serving, add a handful of chopped parsley. Stir gently to combine all together
  7. Serve with baby new potatoes and green bean.

It’s a lovely warming dish for autumn, best eaten with delightful retreat company in a waterside conservatory after a day of writing, reading and staring at the inspiring views outside. Enjoy.

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Mini retreats on summer Sundays

Roaring fires, cosy interiors, starry nights; most of our retreats so far have taken place in the autumn and early spring, when the days are still short and our inclination is to hunker down indoors. But for a long time we have wanted to do something in the summer months. The snag: our favourite venues are full up for the holidays. So, what to do?

We have found the perfect solution close to home on the coast near Falmouth. Mylor Yacht Club enjoys a spectacular situation right at the water’s edge in Mylor Harbour, across from the Roseland Peninsula and the Carrick Roads, some of the most beautiful sailing waters in the UK.

We are offering a series of three mini day retreats on summer Sundays: 10 June, 8 July and 5 August, a chance to learn new skills and spend time writing in good company, with our trademark delicious food. Our themes are Personal writing (10 June), Turning life into fiction (8 July), and Pure fiction (5 August).

Each workshop runs from 9.45am (arrive in time for coffee before a 10.00am start) and finishes at 4.00pm. During the day you will take part in practical writing sessions around our theme, enjoy a tasty lunch of summer soup, salad and Kath’s famous quiche, writing time in the afternoon, and a final round up over cream tea.

 

Each workshop is £40.00 per person including lunch and all refreshments. You can book here, and there is a discount if you book a place for the full series of three.

We can’t think of a better way to spend a summer Sunday beside the water.

 

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