This weekend just gone I joined a bunch of writers in mid-Wales for another MeddwlCoed Writing Retreat. This one at the Glynhir Estate. A fantastic location for some rest and writing.
We left Bristol under cover of darkness and joined the throng on the M4 which flowed well until we reached near Cardiff where Google informed us there was an ‘eight minute delay, but you are still on the fastest route.’ Ha! And so we arrived last and later than we’d estimated and hadn’t seen the message from Jo asking if we were alright. We were greeted with hot food and friendly faces and immediately had to go through introductions. I knew most people at the table but there were a couple of new faces. Once we retired to the sitting room and Jo and Roz introduced the weekend and workshop aspects and beer flowed I felt a bit more relaxed. Glynhir estate is a sprawl of many buildings and outbuildings, barns and pig stys (complete with woolly pigs), and a pack of geese, ducks and peacocks.
The next day I got out of bed at a leisurely 8am and after a quick shower and breakfast it was back to the sitting room for a day of writing. I’d arrived with an idea of finishing off a magazine article, read and edit some short stories (with the idea of submitting once the retreat is over) and reading and creating a revision plan and schedule for the novel I was writing at the last retreat.
I managed to write the article and revise three short stories before Jo & Roz arrived and led us in a workshop centred around writer’s block – many of us reported that our writing had fallen silent over the last couple of pandemic years. After some freewriting, discussions on what we were working on and setting goals I went for my Shiatsu massage – Heather, a qualified therapist was offering a ‘Writer’s Special’ for us folk at the retreat aiming to massage shoulders, necks, arms and hands – all the places that can cause problems for those of us who hunch over laptops all times of the day. Major relaxation followed.
After a spot of lunch (homemade bread and aged goat’s cheese and cake) it was back to the writing. I revised a few more stories and then reached a bit of an impasse – I didn’t want to start on the revision plan for the novel until I’d had my 1-2-1 (or should that be 1-2-2) with Jo and Roz for their thoughts on the extract I’d sent them. I tried to start a new story but the muse had deserted, possibly I was too relaxed after the Shiatsu. So I read for a while (something for WAWAW).
After a lie in and a cooked breakfast I set off to find the waterfall (the estate has it’s own) and went for a wander around the estate
The waterfall wasn’t the only thing of interest on the estate…
Once I returned I then sat with Jo & Roz who gave me some feedback on the novel extract I’d sent them. Both are very experienced editors and they had some great critique, especially on chapter 2. The major thrust of which was ‘insert more weirdness.’ Sage advice for life.
That Sunday feeling had crept in and we writers gathered together in the main sitting room and discussed various things – including, occasionally, writing. I revised another story and explored the orchard in the walled garden and spent some time with this little guy:
But all too soon it was time for me to leave. The retreat actually concluded today but I had to leave Sunday night because of the day job.
The main thing you get out of a retreat is a space carved out of the calendar that’s away from your ‘real’ life. A time to pause and reflect. I didn’t get a massive amount of writing done – but I did re-read the draft of The Certainty of Dust, I edited several of the stories I aim on submitting and I got great feedback. I also spent some time with friends discussing writing.
The estate had a number of peacocks and it was slightly disconcerting that when it came time to leave, the light was fading and the tree outside the accommodation was full of giant birds…
And so back to Bristol, in the dark – but at least it wasn’t raining and the traffic gods were smiling.