Friday, 11 May 2012

Retreating from the World

I'm off to the SCBWI writing retreat this weekend, and I'm already struggling for words to put into this blog – which is probably a bad sign. This is the third SCBWI retreat I've been to, and my writing output has been decidedly variable – last year I wrote 4,000 words, then came home and immediately deleted 3,000 of them. Oops.

There's something really interesting about the idea of sending ourselves away to write, and it can be problematic for me because I often work best when I have really limited time in which to do it. The idea of days and days of creative time stretching ahead of me is a bit of a scary one, if I'm honest. There's also a whiff of brown rice and sandals about the idea of a retreat, that you could as easily be practicing yoga or communing with the Goddess of all creation. The SCBWI retreat isn't like that at all actually, though it is a little daunting being one of the few men attending. Call it the Marcus Sedgwick effect!

The Arvon Foundation's residential writing courses have a high reputation amongst authors, but I've met a couple of people who absolutely hated it. There's something about being trapped in a remote location with a group of neurotic writers that can either end very well or very badly. It's no surprise that there are several books out there that base a detective plot around a murder at a writers' retreat.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that for us Scoobies, though a few characters might come to a sticky end over the weekend. I'm trying to be realistic about what I can achieve, especially as I'm right at the start of a new novel (yes, my indecision has probably ended. Probably). I have several books to read as research and whatever words come out of the time will be a bonus. Given how busy I've been at home and work recently, it will be a pleasure to take some time out for myself. Plus, there's nothing like talking to other people about your work to really fire you up about it. It might be agony pitching an idea to an agent, but when they say they'd like to read it, I always get a genuine boost. Yes, it might seem like hanging on for crumbs of encouragement, but maybe one day I'll have enough to make a loaf of bread. Or at the very least, a gluten-free organic wholemeal roll (sandals optional)



  1. From what I've heard you're more likely to get the whiff of Pimms and Merlot at the SCBWI BI retreat.

  2. :o) Maybe we should pool our crumbs!

  3. Have fun. I hope you get some words done. Please have a glass of wine for me. Feels very odd not to be going!

  4. Do people actually write on these retreats? Somehow I get the impression there'll be more talking than writing in a house full of scoobies.

  5. So did a few characters come to a sticky end? And the Arvon weeks are fantastic ... it's the dishwashing and cooking aspect that's hard to like.