ACW

ACW

Monday, 6 April 2015

Diary of a DIY writers' retreat - by Fran Hill

Friday evening

Deborah Jenkins is upstairs in my house, settling into her room which gazes out over a Victorian graveyard and my postage-stamp primrose-dotted garden. On her bed are soft towels and Body Shop toiletries; on her desk, a selection of books on writing. I didn’t include ‘How Not to Write a Novel’. Although it’s good, someone once gave me ‘What not to Wear’ and I didn’t view it as complimentary.

Our itinerary is sorted. Tonight we are celebrating the writing life (and that of an ex-chicken) with curry, chapattis, and wine. Then it’s Session One: theory. I’ll run a seminar called ‘What I learned at the ACW Birmingham Day’ as Deborah couldn’t attend, and then we will discuss writing projects over a wine-coffee combo.

Saturday morning



Breakfast - and the itinerary


Bacon, eggs and mushrooms lie in the pan, enjoying their final moments before we fry them to perdition and suffocate them with ketchup. A busy writing day stretches ahead. Cafetiere and chocolate brownies are available in the kitchen. We have vowed not to talk. This will be hard: neither of us is Mrs Taciturn.

Saturday evening

We have tapped keyboards for hours and said ‘Um – er – um’. We broke for an hour’s walk down a Warwickshire lane, meeting a churchwarden closing up a pretty church after a wedding. ‘We’ve taken all the flowers away, because it’s Lent,’ she said. We thought that sad, and filed it in our writers’ memories. Tea and chocolate helped us write until seven, when I cooked Spanish omelette and salad. Then, because that had been so healthy, we scoffed profiteroles and lemon tart. We are about to have a Talent Show.

Saturday – midnight

There were two contestants in the Talent Show. Deborah read the beginning of her new novel, and it was a yes from me. I read an extract from mine, and it was a yes from her. A draw.

Sunday afternoon






We wrote all morning, then walked to the local pub, our umbrellas battling the March winds, to discuss writing over a roast pork dinner. On return, we um-er-ummed some more, then finished off our writers’ retreat by taking pity on leftover profiteroles and lemon tart, and saying, ‘We must do this again.’

And we didn’t just mean the puddings although, as you can see, we took the ‘food for thought’ element of our DIY writers’ retreat seriously …



8 comments:

  1. What a fabulous idea. I must think about this and set one up myself :-)

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  2. This is such a good idea - sounds like you had a very productive time together. You've got me thinking about how I can organise my own DIY retreat now - complete with cakes!

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  3. Brilliant. Might even work for that Mount Everest of editing that awaits me!

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  4. It sounds wonderful. How relaxing and encouraging for both of you to spend time together like this! Lovely idea. :)

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  5. It was fabulous! I can highly recommend this if time or money can't stretch to a "proper" writers retreat, and even if it can...it's somehow very inspiring to spend a whole weekend writing with a person whose writing aspirations and dreams are so similar to your own. To say nothing of taste in desserts...

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  6. It was fabulous! I can highly recommend this if time or money can't stretch to a "proper" writers retreat, and even if it can...it's somehow very inspiring to spend a whole weekend writing with a person whose writing aspirations and dreams are so similar to your own. To say nothing of taste in desserts...

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  7. What a fabulous idea! Maybe we need to set up a list of people who'd like to do the same!

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  8. What a great idea - I love it :)

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