The Writing Retreat Stays Home

Drastic times call for drastic measures and yesterday, for the first time, we took The Writing Retreat online. And it was fabulous!

The theme for the day was Flash Fiction: what it is, what it isn’t, and how on earth to do it. This is a blossoming genre, with exciting potential for writers to not only experiment with form, but also practice skills that will benefit them in other genres. The novelist, for example, can learn a great deal from practicing the specific skills required for flash fiction; skills of precision and concision, otherwise known as ‘less is more’.

In another reality (remember that?) this retreat would have been held at The Yacht Club in Mylor Harbour in Cornwall, a beautiful place, which we thoroughly enjoy occupying for a few days each year. The session would have lasted the whole day, interspersed with tasty treats and an indulgent lunch. The move online meant we recast it as a three-hour morning session to which guests brought their own drinks and snacks. We missed the pleasure of meeting face to face but there was one very welcome bonus to meeting online.

Many of our guests, the ones who live in Cornwall, would probably have been at the Mylor venue sharing the day with us anyway. They came along on Zoom instead, which was fantastic, but the extra benefit of making the move to a Zoom room was that writers from further afield, even internationally, could join us at the click of a link. We spent the morning with writing friends from Cornwall, Bristol, London, Chichester, the Isles of Scilly, Denmark and South Africa.  It was a real treat to see everyone together, sharing in the session regardless of where they dwell. Thank you to everyone who attended, you were great!

Our next session is on Sunday 7 June and will focus on poetry; do join us if you can. Don’t worry if you ‘don’t do’ poetry – Jane is on a gentle mission to change that. We’d love to welcome you to one of our Stay Home Retreats soon. In the meantime, stay safe and well.

Kath and Jane

Writers in the time of Lockdown

A message from The Writing Retreat…

 

Things to do as the world changes…

The world has changed. For some of us it has become a juggling game between work, home and trying to make sense of lockdown. For others it has slowed down and become a challenge to make use of the time spent not working or moving around. For us writers it has opened up some unexpected opportunities. Suddenly, we can go to that festival hundreds of miles away in the middle of the working week, albeit virtually. We can attend talks laid on by the Society of Authors, or join in The Writing Retreat Sundays, despite living hundreds, or even thousands of miles away. As we each adapt to the changing state of the world, we want to share with you just some of the opportunities this situation has opened up for people who write.

1. We are moving our Summer Sundays series online. The first of our Stay Home Sundays takes place on 10 May, using Zoom. We are excited that writing friends from far and wide can now join us for these sessions, no longer separated by the reality of geography.

2. In another part of Cornwall, The Writer’s Block are offering talks and workshops online, as well as the chance to join in an online Speakeasy. There are plenty of stimulating workshops for all those kids who love writing too – a great way to keep them constructively occupied during lockdown.

3. The Society of Authors has opened up its online talks to non-members, with a whole list of author talks and workshops coming up. Do check them out and see if anything grabs you.

4. If you are on Facebook, check out The Daily Haiku, a group started by Amanda Wright, a local writer in Cornwall, which has attracted some 1,400 followers and helped raise funds for the NHS. Jane recently had one of her contributions read on Radio Cornwall, which was a lovely surprise.

5. Get your fix of true stories at Stozzys.Com. It feels particularly poignant to be reading about each other’s life experiences at this moment in history, when we are all going through the same thing but often so differently. Why not write your own story and post it here?

6. Now could be the perfect time to dust off your stories (or write new ones) and send them out into the world. Have a look at the competition listings at Creative Writing Ink or Neon Books. Type ‘Writing Competitions 2020 UK’ into Google and you’ll find plenty more potential homes for your work.

7. Nobody ever has enough time to thoroughly research agents and publishers, so why not make this a lockdown task? The Writer and Artist’s Yearbook is a great place to start. While you’re there, pull that novel out of its bottom drawer, cast a critical eye over what can be fixed, and send it off.

8. Platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams mean that we can still meet online so why not form a critique group and get together online to work on your novels, short stories, travel pieces? If you don’t have a group of your own, Kath runs several and is now hosting them online. Or you could contact your local writing group and see if they are offering online get togethers.

9. If you have a novel or memoir that you’ve been meaning to submit, now is the time to polish it and get it out there. Nobody comes searching for your novel, you have to get it right under agents’ and publishers’ noses and wave it about. Kath also offers editing and appraisal services, and is planning some workshops on the submissions process. Do get in touch to find out more.

10. If you don’t feel like engaging with writing at the moment, that is fine. Read a book, stare at the grass, watch caterpillars doing their thing. It’s all grist to the mill, and while your outer self is busy doing nothing much, or just trying to keep work and home life in some sort of order, your writerly self will be composting away, ready for you to get back to it when the time is right. Just breathe.

Whatever you choose to do with this unexpectedly strange summer, stay safe, stay well, and stay in touch.

Warmest wishes,

Kath and Jane (The Writing Retreat)

A Brush With The Coast by Sasha Harding

This book is simply beautiful, and I know I’m biased, having spent so many hours working on it with the wonderful author, Sasha Harding (a total pleasure by the way), but it really is. I love books at the best of times (obviously) but this was the first time I’d worked on one that is as much about the beauty of the paper, the print and the illustrations, as it is about the words. I pulled it off my shelf for the zillionth time today, just to enjoy flicking through it. Lovely.

Well done Sarah

Great to see that Sarah Owens, ex-student, fellow writer and friend, has won the travel competition in the The Telegraph. £500 to blow on travel stuff can’t be bad. Sarah has obviously taken to heart the motto ‘cut cut cut’ because this piece was at least five times as long the first time I saw it. Well done, Sarah.

 

Congratulations Cass Grafton

 

Very pleased and proud that Cass was able to get this novel finished at our writing retreat at the Old Sawmills last year. Our copy is on order.

If you’ve got a writing project that you want to get on with, why not join us at the Old Sawmills this March? Who knows, it might be your novel in print this time next year. Find out more at www.thewritingretreat.co.uk.

 

5 Writing Opportunities in Early 2020

 
Happy new year to you all, and let’s hope 2020 is the year you reach your writing goals, whatever they may be. I’m optimistic, but then I always am at this time of year Emoji.
 
So, to kick 2020 firmly into gear, here are five writing activities I’m offering in the first quarter of the year.
 
1.    Critique Group:
 
I am setting up a new critique group to complement the ones I am currently running. This new group will run on a Thursday evening at The Boslowick Inn, Falmouth. These groups can be fluid, and they run for rounds of six weeks, so nobody has to commit to too long a stretch at a time. The sessions will run from 7.15pm to 9.45pm.
 
The dates for this round will be:
 
Thursday 6th Feb
Thursday 13th Feb
Thursday 20th Feb
Thursday 27th Feb
Thursday 5th March
Thursday 12th March
 
In each session, half of the group will bring work (enough copies for the whole group) and the group will read and critique that work for them, with guidance from me as tutor. This is an enjoyable (honest) and powerful process, which will not only improve the particular piece of writing you might be struggling with, but will also massively develop you as a writer and a master of your craft.
 
A round of six sessions costs £75, payable in advance, and you can book onto this by emailing me at katmorgan2@btinternet.com. (Do enquire if you’d like to join a group but can’t do these dates, as I run several groups at different times).
 
 
 
2.    Workshop – Finding a Publisher
 
I have a one-day workshop coming up at adult education in Falmouth – Submitting to Publishers – on Saturday 15th February, 10am to 3.30pm.  This course is about how to get a traditional publishing deal, which these days involves trying to land an agent first. The day will explain the processes involved, what agents are looking for, and how to compile a submissions package – what it is, why it is, and how to make sure yours gets you through to the next stage.
 
You can book this course via the adult education website or call 0300 1231 117.  Do bring a packed lunch and your own mug – there is a kettle in the room and I will provide tea and coffee.
 
 
 
3. Winter Sundays with The Writing Retreat
 
The Writing Retreat, which I run with my writing partner, Jane Moss, has a few places left on two Winter Sunday events coming up. These will take place in Devoran, and start at 10am and finish at 4pm. As these events are run by The Writing Retreat, they tend to be indulgently catered Emoji so just bring yourself, a notebook and a pen.
  • The first is on Sunday 9th February – When a writer isn’t writing: how to keep your writer’s larder well stocked.
  • The second is on Sunday 8th March – Choosing the form: when you know what to say but not how best to say it.
The cost for these retreat days is £45 each, payable via bank transfer to The Writing Retreat. Email us at thewritingretreat@btinternet.com to book your place and to let us know if you have any food allergies or intolerances that we should be aware of when preparing the snacks and lunch.
 
 
 
4. Retreat at The Old Sawmills – Crafting the Short Story
If you really want to treat yourself, we have spaces left on our 5 night retreat in March at this stunning location near Fowey. This retreat provides the time and space to write, far away from the distractions and demands of everyday life, while enjoying good food and wine in the company of other writers. You can find out more about this retreat here.
 
Email us at thewritingretreat@btinternet.com if you would like to book a place on this retreat. Don’t worry if you’re not a short story specialist; the skills you will learn are applicable to all creative writing, and you will have a fabulous time.
 
 
5. One-to-One: mentoring, editing, critiquing
 
I will be continuing to work one-to-one with a small number of clients on their novels, short stories, life writing, academic work, non-fiction books, articles or any other writing needs. Email me at katmorgan2@btinternet.com if you would like some more individual support with your writing.
 
 
And in between all that, I’ll be getting on with my own writing, full of new year optimism as I am!
 
Happy scribbling all,
 
Kath Morgan

 

Philip Marsden will join our November 2017 writing retreat at Bosloe

philip_marsden_cr_gina_lundy2011__fullWe are delighted to announce that Philip Marsden will be our mid-week guest author for our retreat on Life Writing and Time to Write at Bosloe in early November. The retreat runs from Tuesday 31 October to Sunday 5 November and Philip will join us for dinner and an author’s talk on Wednesday, and return the next morning to run a workshop.

Philip is the award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers, The Levelling Sea and, most recently, Rising Ground (Granta, 2014). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. After years of travelling, he now lives on the tidal upper reaches of the River Fal in Cornwall with his wife, children and various boats.

The Levelling SeaWe’ve recently read and enjoyed The Levelling Sea, his dramatic account of the history of Falmouth, awash with pirates, sailors, politicians and maritime adventurers. This brilliant read taught us much that we didn’t know about our home town; a walk along Arwenack Street and around Pendennis headland will now be even more fascinating.

Philip brings the perfect set of writing skills to our retreat; an understanding of ‘life writing’ and its sub-genres of travel writing, memoir, and creative non-fiction, and knowledge of ways we can use real life events as a basis for fiction. You can find our more about his work and read some of his excellent reviews here.

Our retreat is booking now, and there are some lovely rooms available. Bosloe is a very special setting in the autumn, with its sweeping views across the Helford, and its own gorgeous gardens just next door to the National Trust’s spectacular Glendurgan. Don’t miss out – you can find out more and book here. We will be delighted to welcome you to The Writing Retreat.

A retreat (with optional epiphany…)

The Writing Retreat

Be prepared for things to change. Your writing will grow, your outlook will change, and you’ll be very glad you came.Sarah Fisher, March 2016 guest

Tanya 167When we look back over the past few years of running our retreats we see a pattern. On each retreat there seems to be at least one person for whom the experience turns out to be – potentially – life changing. When we started The Writing Retreat we didn’t set out to change lives, but for some people the experience of a complete week immersed in something they love – writing – seems to gives them permission to realise how central it is to them. You can read some of our guests’ comments from recent retreats here, to get a flavour of the difference a week away to write can make.

I’ll come clean and confess that I had my own…

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The Making of Her: Review

An insightful interview with the very talented Susie Nott-Bower.

CSP Archives

I’ve been reading Susie Nott-Bower’s first novel, The Making of Her, and I’m impressed. Too often one looks at the small and independent press as a second choice for publication, but The Making of Her shows that there’s nothing second rate about working with independent publishers. The book examines being a woman in the twenty first century where looks are valued over experience. It asks questions about how we regard ourselves, how we see our flesh and skin as it changes over the years. Nott-Bower uses her experience in the world of television, the medium that puts a magnifying glass to our lives, and writes the story of Clara, a TV producer who has just reached 50 and denies her birthdays. She can’t combat other peoples’ perceptions as she wrangles with her young assistant Alix who is after her job. Clara’s best friend Josephine is married to a successful…

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