Sunday, 23 May 2010

Writing on Retreat.

I've been back a whole week from the SCWBI
( Scooby) Writing Retreat in Penderall College, outside Telford and I'm missing the peace and quiet and the total focus on writing.
Penderall College is a wonderful old manor house set in the middle of sheep grazing land and this is my third year running I've attended out Retreat. We have lovely single study bedrooms ( ensuite) and plenty of quiet places to sit, think, walk and write.

The substantial meals are taken in a beautiful old dining room, sitting round long trestle tables, nattering about the industry, our writing and Dr Who, a particular feature of the Retreat this year.
The wonderful Sue Hyams : in blue: organises the Retreat each year and makes sure we are all comfortable and well fed.

The high point of the meals for most of us is the fried bread at breakfast : our once a year treat!

This is a view of the sheep meadows at seven o'clock on the Saturday morning. This is the first year I've been on Retreat when it hasn't rained and I spent a lot of time outside at all hours, taking photographs and just enjoying the first proper sunshine of the year.
I could feel my brain clearing out the winter snow and cold and settling down to focus on the work in hand.
It must have worked because I wrote three chapters on my novel, STUFFED, the third novel in my Haying Cycle, Meadowside Books, March 2011.

Amazing really that I managed to do any writing because we had a very full programme. On the Friday night we  critiqued each other's work, always a very useful exercise. As a result I have made one character less passive and this really fed into the writing of one of the chapters this weekend.
We also had a full programme of speakers, Lee Weatherly, Pippa Goodhart and Julia Churchill. An enormous input on writing, publishing and various other aspects of the industry, all in one weekend. We also had 1:1 meetings with one of the speakers to review our manuscripts.
This was excellent for me as I am at the first draft stage on my new novel.
Feedback from Lee : great start, just keep going!

But it wasn't all work, work, work.
We did some pretty serious drinking too.
Well everyone else did.
 As I announced on the first evening, I'm a failed alcoholic and struggled to get through a bottle of cider. Still someone's got to do it and there were plenty of willing participants.
We had champagne on the Saturday night too : provided by Jon Mayhew : that's his profile in the pic.

Jon brought the champagne to celebrate the publication of his novel, Mortlock.
Great book, brilliant plotting and lovely to read it over the weekend and discuss it with the author as I went along. I thoroughly recommend it.

This was a great weekend with a lovely bunch of people, creative, generous and tons of fun.

Here I am looking mellow on the last night, struggling with my cider and feeling great after dinner and a lovely weekend writing and retreating.

If you haven't joined SCBWI yet, maybe this blog will be your inspiration.
Roll on next year and all that lovely fried bread!


  1. Yes, it was a fantastic retreat. Such a beautiful spot.

  2. It was great meeting up and hearing about your work, particularly the art you are getting back to.

  3. I was really impressed by your focus, Miriam. I'm not sure many of the rest of us got that much actual writing done! Still, it was a great weekend.

  4. I was on a real roll at the retreat, Nick and so it was the best place to be. Its carried on too!

  5. Thanks for blogging about the retreat Miriam. I had a great time and got loads done too. Looking forward to next year all ready. :)

  6. Looks like you all had a great time. Maybe next year for me.

  7. I really really must put some time aside to join you all next year. It sounds as if it was a brilliant weekend. And fried bread! I haven't had fried bread in ages. Yum.


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