Behind the scenes at a writing retreat.
Part One. What’s in a name?
It seems only months ago that Elizabeth, Dawn and I were sitting round a table in our favourite hotel, trying to come up with a catchy title for our proposed writing retreat. We must have gone through every name of every glen and river and literary character on the east coast. Three lattes later, things inevitably turned to J. M. Barrie.
‘A quote from Peter Pan?’ Dawn suggested.
I’d like to say we all produced a well-thumbed first edition of the children’s classic from our bags. That didn’t happen. Writers rarely carry useful books or biros, merely notepads too beautiful to write on, or exquisite gel pens that have to be counted back into their plastic wallets like prisoners with a flight risk.
So we Googled it.
‘…it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it?’ Dawn read. ‘Time is chasing after all of us.’
Elizabeth and I looked at each other, and then at Dawn. THAT’S IT! The perfect starting point. That’s the way we’d been feeling for weeks. Time snapping at our heels and never enough of it to go around. I’m sure Barrie intended this to be read on a much more existential level, but for three harassed women with precious little writing time, it said everything we needed it to say!
We thought about the things we’d be looking for in a retreat. Time to write whenever we felt like it, with no distractions. Not just a room of our own, but the freedom to pick our own personal writing nook. A roaring log fire? Bonus. A fully-stocked bar? We could live with that. Good food and lashings of tea and coffee on tap? Sold!
We had the perfect venue in mind, a gloriously quirky Scottish Baronial hotel on the outskirts of Arbroath, home to Angus Writers’ Circle for many years now, and just crying out for some company. It would be an authentic country house experience- what writer wouldn’t want to create a novel or a collection of poems in such a place?
There was just one hitch. We’d never actually stayed there overnight. We couldn’t ask other folk to do so, unless we had a trial run!
We had the gorgeous Rosely House to ourselves. Snuggling over our laptops in the parlour, we thought YES…this is the perfect place to be creative. We began to think of workshop ideas, walks around the grounds. We could do wordsprints, creative exercises and mentoring- but wait! Don’t people simply want to write? Note to selves. Let’s also give our guests the tools and space they need to crack on with their own work. We did so much writing at our own mini-retreat (fuelled by coffee and biscuits!) that we felt sure others would like to have this experience too.
Chasing Time was born!
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