I’ve been away –surrounded by a different geography with mainly prose writers on an Arvon retreat that focussed on story telling. It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in words –writing them, reading them, assessing their order and disorder, putting them aside during yoga and meditation, taking them out for a walk in bluebell woods overcast with birdsong.
Shropshire glowed with fields of rape rather than the sun but the contours offered around every corner were a wonderful sight –lots of tree line horizons, lambs bleating for their mums and not unexpectedly this particular spring, a few ‘lakes’ where there were once fields. My winding down activity on Saturday started in Bishops Castle -a gentle wander through the flea market, quite a chunk of time in the bookshop that specialises in arts and craft and coffee with the Saturday paper to catch up with the news.
Also visited the Land of Lost Content (http://www.lolc.org.uk/) in Craven Arms … what an incredible place! Everything from the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s 70’s, almost literally everything … here is a curator who does not believe in white space. You wind through the years along impossibly narrow corridors, trying not to knock into any of the exhibits, peering into the past through the ordinary things of life. A national treasure.
Enough of places … the writing opportunity was very special. My second time in John Osborne's former home and I’m so glad I chose to do something a little different. Different that is to the previous Arvon poetry courses … so good to look at my writing at a slant, to see writing a poem as story telling and to revisit editing through the eyes of an experienced novelist. I now have 8 poems in the Alderney Stones sequence … and lots of feedback on them, as well as ideas about how to develop some of the short prose I’ve been writing. Lots of thanks to everyone who read my work.
It is, of course, the other people who are there that can make (or break) the time away –especially when everyone is all together in a smallish space. This time it was definitely a group that made good things good …. a mix of experience and different approaches/genres of fiction, great people to party with and always a bonus –they could cook when their turn came around.. It was great to meet Maggie Gee and Jonathan Lee -generous and insightful workshop leaders and Kishwar Desia , a new author to me, who made a guest appearance to remember. I’m looking forward to reading their writing in the next few weeks …. and to more writing of my own.
Finally, in amongst the countless emails I downloaded today was an acceptance note for a poem I sent out into the world quite a time ago. … i do so like the glow that sort of email brings. . Now to more writing in the hope of more glow.