By April 26, 2016 Read More →

The Writing Retreat

The Writing Retreat - BosloeA beautiful house by the sea in Cornwall, delicious home-cooked food, real fires, chatting about writing with Patrick Gale over dinner – how could you fail to be inspired by The Writing Retreat?

Cofounder Kath Morgan gives us a glimpse behind the scenes:

Kath, your Cornish writing retreats look idyllic! Where did the idea come from?
I had been on writing retreats myself in the past, and loved the experience. Living in Cornwall and working as a creative writing tutor since 2008, it occurred to me that this would be a truly inspirational place to gather writers together for a whole week.

With Cornwall being famous as a holiday destination, it seemed only natural that the week should feel like a holiday too, so it became part of The Writing Retreat’s brand to use high spec accommodations and great food.

So, the dream was there, but to be honest, it all felt a bit daunting, being responsible for every aspect of the events: teaching, hosting, catering, marketing.

Then a friend who was studying for her Professional Writing MA interviewed me as part of her research on writers who choose to run (or in my case dream of running) retreats.

A few weeks later she dropped me an email saying she had interviewed another dreamer, Jane Moss, and that we both had exactly the same vision… which it turns out we did. I met Jane for coffee and a chat, and The Writing Retreat was born.

The Writing RetreatYou must get increasingly busy as the start date for The Writing Retreat approaches. Have you established a routine to deal with all the details that need organising?
Although the events themselves only happen a few times a year, Jane and I work on them all year round. We have a very simple system, using traffic light codes and an Excel spreadsheet, in which we predict all the steps we need to take to be ready. When we need to take them, we divvy them up between us. It’s childishly satisfying to see all those spreadsheet boxes turning green as the retreat approaches.

By the week leading up to the retreat, workshops and administration tasks are in the bag, so unless we get a flurry of last minute bookings, cooking is our main last minute preparation. We like to make lots of treats and goodies for our guests: flapjacks, brownies, red chilli jam, home-made soups, that kind of thing.

What kind of writers come along – new, experienced, fiction, factual etc?
We’ve had such a wide range of writers as guests we couldn’t possibly pigeon-hole them. We’ve hosted everybody from published novelists and a Hollywood screenwriter, to incredibly talented people who haven’t let on even to their dearest friends that they sometimes scribble away in secret. All are welcome.

You have some well-known guest writers, and in May it’s one of my own favourites, Patrick Gale. How have you made these contacts?
Ah, yes, we are delighted that Patrick Gale will be our guest writer this month. He would have made it onto my fantasy dinner party guest list, so you can imagine how pleased I am.

We’ve established contact with our guest authors via several networking means really, some through personal contacts already established over the years while attending writing groups and festivals, others through mutual introductions via writing friends.

The Writing Retreat - Patrick GaleI actually went along to Patrick’s book signing in The Falmouth Bookseller, and brokered the idea to him as I purchased a signed copy of A Place Called Winter. Times like that make you really appreciate the good old business card.

Is the rest of your working year very different?

Yes and no. The retreat work goes on all year, and Jane and I meet weekly to draft plans, consider possible developments, work on marketing, and review and improve on what we’ve done and hope to do next.

Around that, I work at a variety of other ‘jobs’. I freelance as a creative writing tutor and as a professional copywriter, plus I teach at adult education and support students at Falmouth University.

No two days are the same and, as I’m sure most of your readers will agree, that’s what makes being self-employed so rewarding. And of course, I still have to find time around all that to write myself. Currently, I’m working on a novel.

As a published author and teacher of writing, what advice would you give to readers who would like to see their work in print?
Learn your craft. Nearly everybody writes, so it’s easy to think that all you have to do is find an idea that grabs you and write it down.

On one level that really is all there is to it, or at least, it’s an essential part, but there’s so much more to writing effective fiction than people imagine.

Most adults these days can drive a car, yet they don’t expect to lift the bonnet and dismantle and reconstruct the engine without a lot of training and practice. Writing’s no different. You can waste a lot of time, and get very discouraged, by not finding this out early on.

work from home secrets

Kath Morgan is a writer, teacher, mentor and editor, living and working in beautiful Cornwall, UK. She is a founding partner of The Writing Retreat, where writers can come to relax, learn the craft, and find space and time to write.

There are usually two retreats a year. Click here for more details on a typical day at a retreat, food, bedrooms, what you should bring etc.

Kath and I were classmates on theProfessional Writing MA at Falmouth University, where the idea for my book Work from Home was born. And thanks to the excellent advice given by my tutor I was offered a publishing contract a few months after graduating. The MA can be completed full-time in a year, or over two years part-time online.

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