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Fig. 1 Retreats for You, Sheepwash, Devon
An hour with my tutor yesterday evening. Buzzed, but fell asleep soon after. It was a four hour drive yesterday afternoon/evening and I’d been up since 4.00 am or something. Which is when I woke this morning and rattled off 1 1/2 following guidelines on how to ‘set the scene’.
Armed with a pot of coffee I plan to get another hour in before breakfast.
The goal is to write four completed scenes, each of around 2,500 words this week. I may, a new experience for me, write each of these scenes several times as I try out the approaches I’ve been given.
The premise for my novel got the thumbs up as did my ‘voice’: not so hot were the gaping holes in my scene setting – I leave far too much untold.
By the end of the week I will decide either to give up once and for all, or that there’s a future in it and the boxes of manuscripts, scripts, zip drives, discs and flopping discs, hard drives, notebooks and diaries have served a purpose or should go to the skip.
And I’ll rejoin the family for my birthday.
Fig. 1 The Writers’ Retreat, Sheepwash, Devon
have filed away somewhere all my writing efforts that begins with ‘Adam & Evie’ – a kind of Blue Lagoon in space that I wrote when I was 13. Since then, forty years ago, I have filled a garage, or at least a corner of one. Much of my effort is on Amstrad floppy discs, ZIP drives, CDs and harddrives. Some is printed off. Some are TV series and screenplays. You haven’t heard about me because it is all rubbish: around a fireplace I could tell you the story, even illustrate it with photos from my research, but until this week I could not get from my head to yours the story I wanted to tell.
This all changed this week.
Though I fell short of the goal of four, 2,500 scenes written I delivered one 3,000 word scene, developed several others, sketched out seven or so more and worked on the story arc. Last night three writers read from their work: an author whose third book comes out this week, my tutor who has two books published and two in the wings – and me. It worked. I had their attention, it gripped and scared them more than I could imagine and there was half an hour of discussion about the place and events.
Crucial to me is understanding the concept of a ‘scene’ and its needs in terms of writing, what my tutor Susannah Waters describes as a ‘palette of senses.’
A new year, an new age (I turned 53 an hour ago) and a new opportunity to ‘get stuff out.’
Fig.1 Another writer on the retreat in Devon
I use an hour glass to count the time I spend ‘at it’ writing.
Five hours pulling together ideas, then three hours writing. 600 words. Which is a multiple of ten less than I’d historically generate. I need to speak to my tutor about what this may or may not have achieved. Progress if I am successfully transplanting images and sounds from my head to hers, otherwise not.
It also feels liberating to be so well looked after; it immediately made me feel like being at home and working for my A’ Levels – at home so that you are fed and watered. All you have to do is to keep your head in one place. Everything is geared around letting us get on with our writing. Fellow writers appear from their rooms at meal times, some might go for a walk or a run, but for most of time we are quietly at our desks in our rooms.
A revelation, but a situation too ideal to repeat.