In September I am going on my first ever writing anything.
I’ve never been on a course, a retreat, or a workshop. Never been to a festival or a book show. Never been in a writing group or book club. But in September, finally, I am. Along with a small group of other women writers, I’ll be spending two days at Tilton House in Sussex, at a writing retreat led by Bloomsbury stable-mate Vanessa Gebbie, whose novel ‘The Coward’s Tale’ will be published this November.
Yes, this one is just for the ladies. A chance to retreat to the beautiful and peaceful surroundings and “leave behind those other roles women accumulate, just enjoy being a writer and find your own, personal “room to write”.
There is a big part of me that is saying how much of a huge luxury this is, me sloping off for a weekend on my own, just for me, all about writing. But another part says I deserve this, that what with all the years juggling three jobs and two children and one husband and writing in the cracks, a weekend away is a just reward. I can pay for it out of my novel advance, after all. And on top of all that I feel I need a boost to my own writing, I want to learn and develop, and I’ve not done that, except on my own, since school!
I’m not sure who the other participants are yet, but am told we’ll be a mixed group of writers from poets, to academic writers, novelists published and unpublished…a playwright too.
The two days includes six writing workshops geared to creativity, shedding worry and ‘roles’, character, voice and lots of flashing, as well as some one-on-one time with Vanessa. Sharing what you write there is entirely optional, the aim is to help you on your writing journey not embarrass anyone unnecessarily! There are also walks, yoga, time for chatting and plenty of time for your own writing. How perfect does that sound?
And if that’s not enough, Saturday night dinner has the award winning Carole Hayman as special guest and Sunday Lunch includes a Q&A with the lovely and talented Helen Garnons-Williams, Editorial Director at Bloomsbury, and indeed my (and Vanessa’s) editor. After lunch Helen will give a talk on the subject of literary agents, the world of publishing and what editorial directors are looking for.
If you can’t make this one, have you ever been on something similar? Do you have any tips to share about how to make the most of it?