Treat yourself or a loved one to The Writing Retreat in 2020
Book now for our 2020 retreats
Our programme for 2020 includes our Winter and Summer Sundays, and two fully residential five-night retreats, one in the gorgeous surroundings of The Old Sawmills near Fowey, and the other at Bosloe, overlooking the Helford estuary near Durgan.
Winter and Summer Sundays
Our Sunday retreats were hugely popular in 2019 and we have more treats in store for 2020.
We kick off our Winter Sundays at Devoran Village Hall on 12 January with ‘New Year, New You: how to kick-start your writing year’. Then, on 9 February, we have more inspiration to keep you writing with ‘When a Writer Isn’t Writing: how to keep your writing larder well stocked’. We round off this winter series on 8 March with ‘Choosing the Form: when you know what to say but not how best to say it.’ You can find out more about the Winter Series here and can book your place here.
For our Summer Sundays, we return to the scenic setting of Mylor Yacht Club and start off with: ‘Flash Fiction: full on fiction, but fast,’ on 10 May. Then ‘Poetry: making the personal poetic,’ will be our theme on 7 June, followed by ‘Blogging: the art of online storytelling,’ on 19 July. Find out more about the Summer Series hereand book here.
Cost: £45.00 each with a discount of £120.00 when you book for all three in either the Winter or Summer series. The price includes all refreshments and a delicious home-cooked lunch.
We offer two fully residential retreats in 2020. The Old Sawmillsis our venue for ‘Crafting the Short Story‘ from 22-28 March, with Tom Vowler returning as our mid-week guest author. Those of you who have attended our weeks at The Old Sawmills in 2018 and 2019 will know that this is an unusual and very special venue, with access by boat or by foot from Golant, which is the nearest village. There is no road access, which gives the house a magical ‘away from the world’ feel. You can book this retreat here.
In the autumn, from 24-29 November, we return to Bosloe, the beautiful Arts and Crafts property overlooking the Helford. This elegant and spacious house is in fact three linked houses set in stunning grounds close to the famous National Trust gardens of Glendurgan and the neigbouring Trebah (not National Trust). Our theme will be ‘Time to Write‘ and we are delighted to welcome award-winning author Nina Stibbe as our midweek guest author. You can book this retreat here.
We recommend speedy booking to be sure of your place at either retreat.
Warmest wishes for Christmas and the New Year. We look forward to welcoming you to The Writing Retreat in 2020.
Kath and Jane.
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
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!
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
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.