It started with a tweet, mentioning that one place was left on the Arvon Centre’s four day writers’ retreat. No tuition, no structure, no feedback – just time to write. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Spending a few days at the Clockhouse in Shropshire is something I’d recommend to any writer in need of peace, quiet, time and the simple luxury of not being ‘on duty’ in any way. The retreat has been designed by people who really understand writers’ needs: the physical spaces are spacious and restful, with no distractions such as TV or even loud artworks. The setting is beautiful, with a magical woodland walk and a kitchen garden providing lettuce and raspberries. I half expected to bump into Peter Rabbit. The food provided is plentiful and delicious, with veggie and vegan options and the option to bring your own wine (or gin and tonic!) or pop a few quid in the honesty box.
There are just four studios at the Clockhouse and I was lucky enough to have a wonderful view of the countryside from my study window. My fellow writers were a delight – one from London, one from Hong Kong and one from Colorado. We socialised over dinner, sharing tips and describing our various writing projects, whilst respecting each other’s desire for peace and privacy the rest of the time.
Best of all, my first ever writers’ retreat was an intensely and enjoyably productive time: as well as finishing the draft of my novel for 8-12 year olds (which was my objective) ideas surfaced that are now an exciting and essential part of the work. There’s more work to do in two of the middle chapters of The Stone Feather before I can truly say ‘it’s finished’ but I made more progress than I’d ever have believed possible.
I can’t wait to go back.