I’ve just come back from a writers’ retreat in the depths of Devon, in a fascinating 17th century large thatched house, run by a very friendly couple, Deborah and Bob, where meals were served three times a day, and in between I could retreat to my room and just write. I got my head down and in three full days and a shorter afternoon (arrival) and morning session (on my departure day), managed just over 21,600 words on one of the novels that have been queued up awaiting my attention.
I was shocked though to realise, looking back, that I first developed the idea for this novel in 1991 when I submitted an opening scene and a synopsis that I had to somehow invent, to a competition at the Annual Writers’ Conference which then was held in Southampton and has now transferred to Winchester. It did pretty well as I recall, even picking up a prize. Over the years I’ve added a bit here, a bit there, sometimes fitting them in as exercises on workshops, and had gradually produced just over 30,000 words and succeeded in stringing together most of the isolated bits of story, but had not reached the really critical stage in the narrative. Well, I did at the retreat. There’s still further to go, but I found the quiet time with no distractions and no need to break off to prepare meals and wash up – or feel guilty about not doing the hoovering etc. – really inspirational. It seemed that the more I wrote, the more I could write, and the whole thing really built up momentum. It will be a challenge to see if I can keep that ticking over now I’m back in the real world.
Anyway, for anyone who would like some peace, and quality time to write, the website is http://www.retreatsforyou.co.uk/. It’s very reasonable for the full board provided, and you also get the chance to socialise and discuss with other writers over mealtimes, including with Deborah, who is a professional journalist, and to have a good natter in the evenings if you want, with maybe a reading thrown in, or a visit to the pub hosted by Bob. I recommend it.