A whole new group

Today I’ve hosted my first WriteSpace Retreat in partnership with Writers Victoria and it’s been fantastic.

I’ve met 12 new writers who are busy working on all sorts of projects – lunchtime introductions revealed that we’re in the company of a detective, an accountant and a Human Rights professional (who’s writing crime). We have parents of young children enjoying a rare solid block of time to write and a writer who pledged to read more and swear less in 2016.

Covering all bases and genres, I think if we tallied up the word count of new text, transcriptions from messy notebooks and copy edits we’d have at least one full (and very interesting) manuscript.

Funnily enough I think that this day has been as valuable for me as I hope it has been for my guests. Anything that gets me talking writing and typing again is wonderful. And thanks to my gorgeous partner it’s been pretty good eating as well.

Looking forward to next time and in the meantime, happy writing!




Not the naughty kid…

Thoughts from Emily Spurr after her first WriteSpace Retreat:

1. WriteSpace Retreat starts early on a Sunday morning. When you were on your way there, how were you feeling? What were you looking forward to?
I was mainly working out how I was best going to get there after getting on the train and realising as it was a Sunday, it would not be going to Spencer St!
I’m not big on ruminating over something I’m about to do before I do it. I prefer to plan and then just do. I’d planned the week before how I wanted to use the time and what my goals were, I’d packed my bag the night before, so really, once I’d worked out my amended itinerary, I just enjoyed the peace of walking through Melbourne on a clear Sunday morning. Which, by the way, was bliss.

2. How did you go? I claim that it is amazing what you can achieve in a day – did you feel satisfied with how much you wrote that day?
Definitely. I’d planned to get from point E to G in my ms and to roughly sketch out the scenes to finish. And I did that. I would have given myself a high five for a couple thousand good words, so getting 4,000 down was really satisfying!

3. How did I go? I think that coffee, tea and hearty food are important to fuel a writing day – did you enjoy what was provided, and was there enough?
Food, delicious. Just the right amount of yummy treats (homemade bickies!) and fresh brain food (soup, toasty wraps) good coffee, relaxing tea, all delivered and offered unobtrusively and with uncanny timing.

4. I describe WriteSpace Retreat as “It is work. It’s also a retreat.” How would you fill in the gaps? It is [INSERT]. It’s also a [INSERT]
It’s space and time. And the space isn’t just the space itself, which was lovely, but the head space too. To be in a room where everyone is writing, to have permission to focus on nothing else, and a whole day to do so, well, it was invaluable for me. It also creates the added incentive of not wanting to be the ‘naughty kid’, with all those keyboards clacking, you don’t want to let that vibe down. The focus in the room was great.

Emily Spurr is a writer who once did not appreciate the luxury of time. She thought working or study (or both) were adequate reason for the fluctuations in her productivity relating to her own works. There was all the time in the world to finish them… Then she had two kids, at the same time. Making time became a struggle and concurrently an absolute essential requisite for sanity. Half an hour three times a week became a really lucky week. The hunger to finish the current project became a roar.
As well as being a hungry writer and the mother of twins, Emily is a development editor working in educational publishing. She is looking forward to completing her novel this year.  The gods of toddler naps and writing retreats permitting.

Getting ready…

Sunday is the next WriteSpace Retreat – the forecast is for cold and wet weather, perfect writing conditions.

I’ve baked the ginger kisses, packed the Gewurzhaus tea and the specialty blend coffee, the fruit loaves will be baked tomorrow and I’ll be making a big pot of soup. We’re ready for another productive day.

As well as looking after Melbourne writers I have a series on my personal blog where I meet writers in cafes (or convents or whisky bars…). It’s called ‘Words Out: plotting Melbourne’s future literary map’ and my latest, and very entertaining, conversation was with Paddy O’Reilly. It happened to be on the day her latest collection of short stories was released, so I’ve added that to the reading collection for my WriteSpace Retreat writers.


Superstitions, coffee and tea

I started drinking coffee because I loved the smell and the sound of the drip percolator. During my university years coffee became an integral part of my morning – along with a few other exam preparation superstitions that included buying the Wise Owl lecture pads and switching from B&H 25s to Kent cigarettes in 20s soft packs – and decades later I still savour a good long black every morning.

While living in London I offended many “baristas” because I believe life’s too short to drink bad coffee. I also developed a preference for Pukkah notepads and imported Artline200 Fine 0.4 pens from Australia (via family visitors) because I couldn’t find a 0.4 felt nib anywhere.

Many writers have routines, superstitions and strong allegiances to stationery items.

Several months ago I added a new beverage to my morning writing routine when I found the Gewurzhaus range of teas and spices. I’m not going to reveal the details but will say that I love the name of this particular tea as much as the taste, and I’m looking forward to sharing it (alongside a signature blend coffee and healthy food) with my WriteSpace guests.

You deserve time to write, and enjoy good tea and coffee.