On the table

FullSizeRender-3I bring a collection of reading material to WriteSpace Retreat, a range of books and journals that might be used for inspiration, a lesson or a well-deserved break.

Each retreat is different and I love looking after writers working on such a variety of projects. This month we have some new faces joining the group and I’m looking forward to learning more about them and their writing.

Some of the books on the table will be:
‘Wasted’ by Kate Tempest. If you missed her talking with Maxine Beneba Clarke at The Wheeler Centre last week, you don’t have to miss out. The podcast is almost as good as being in the performance space.
‘Writing Without A Parachute, The Art of Freefall’ by Barbara Turner-Vesselago. One of our regulars has enjoyed a couple of productive retreats hosted by this writing teacher – this print version of her freefall approach had me writing freely before I’d even finished the Introduction.
‘Dialogue’ by Lewis Turco. It’s always good to spend some time focused on one aspect of writing, and I think this can be one of the hardest. Besides, playing around with dialogue might lead to something you could enter in the Bartleby Snopes Dialogue Only Writing Contest which opened for submissions today.
‘Womankind’ magazine. This was recommended to me by one of the writers at a Women Who Write Melbourne catch up a couple of weeks ago. I’m looking forward to a few pages with a fresh coffee in the afternoon.

What else should be on a reading table for writers?

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King.



Bring it on

It feels like I disappeared for a little while there but things have been busy behind the scenes and it’s great to be confirming bookings for the first 2016 retreat.

Last year I taught myself WordPress to start this site and, after years of resistance, joined Facebook. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what is the right marketing for WriteSpace Retreat and our community. I don’t want to bombard anyone and to do so would go completely against the premise of this venture.

So I want to be sharing stories about writing places, spaces and retreats and opportunities relevant to Victorian/Australian writers working across all different genres and forms. The aim? To inspire you with a goal or a deadline or a positive story about why your writing matters or where it might take you.

I’ve just set up a Mailchimp newsletter (more tech self-lessons) and will send occasional emails directly to our group. Click here if you’d like to join us.

Happy writing all, Jen

Gift it

There’s a bit of a wait until the next WriteSpace Retreat but it’s great to be taking bookings for February already.

If you’re a writer and want to hint at a present idea, or if you have a writer in your life who doesn’t really need a new journal/pen/book of motivational quotes, I’ve got gift cards that can be bought and used at any of the monthly dates.

It’s just an idea that could be a present for a birthday or an anniversary or that one that comes around in December…

If you’d like to give (or be given) a day to focus on your writing and be looked after by me, let’s talk.


Sunshine? Football final?

Yesterday morning I watched a beautiful sunrise and enjoyed coffee and crumpets on the balcony with my man before heading into town to set up the room for my third WriteSpace Retreat.

At 8.15am it was already crowded in Flinders Lane and Degraves St – I wondered how the writers who were coming in felt about missing out on the warmest day we’ve had in months.

There was absolutely no reason to worry.

I watched as morning tea and lunch and cups of tea with cookies were all consumed at the desks. I tried not to interrupt as I brought in food and took out empty plates, and hoped they didn’t notice when I stepped out for some sunshine and fresh air myself.

There were first timers and regulars in the group – it was funny that introductions happened as we were packing up because there was no time to waste at the start – and I know that the output included 3 stories, 2 essays and a memoir. Better than any Christmas Carol I know.

Thanks to you hardworking writers for making me feel like we all achieved good things yesterday. Looking forward to doing it all again in October. Jen

Inspired by volunteers

“And we’re less than 24 hours in and I’m already wowed by the amazing job the volunteers are doing in their gorgeous t-shirts”

Inspired by this tweet from La Drevikovsqueña I’ve been thinking about the team of pink and white pencil-striped MWF15 volunteers. This year I chose to volunteer as a driver so I haven’t been at the venues as much as last year (but I am pretty familiar with the Tullamarine freeway) but when I’ve gone to an event I’m always greeted by huge smiles and an infectious excitement about the session that’s coming up next.

I know that many of you volunteers are writers yourselves and would love to offer you something to add to your goodie bag. No doubt you’ll leave the festival inspired, with plenty of ideas to develop, so this is a call out to you all and an invitation to take up a discount for an upcoming WriteSpace Retreat.

You can read more about the retreats here and comments from previous guests here. It’d be a real pleasure to look after you – please do get in touch if you’d like to know more. Jen

A sheltered community

Last Sunday I hosted another group of writers working on a diverse range of projects – a conference paper, a funding application, novels, short stories… It was wonderful to listen to busy keyboards and pages turning as they worked.

The positive feedback I’ve received so far has two consistent themes: it’s motivating to be around other writers; and it’s amazing how productive you can be in a day.

While procrastinating yesterday I was thinking about this and started looking up other words to describe what’s evolving out of WriteSpace Retreat. Looking for definitions and synonyms I found:

“a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax; a period or place of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation” (retreat)

“a self-organised network of people with a common agenda, cause or interest.” (community)

And that’s what I’m trying to create – a place where people who love words, both writing and reading them, come together, enjoy being looked after, chat over lunch and feel that meditative benefit of giving yourself time to do something you are passionate about.

Not weird…yet

Irma Gold has posted two hilarious articles on the weird and wonderful places where writers write – at the Australian Open, on toilet rolls in the school car park, in trees and the snow and a lot of hospital wards. She’s confirmed it: writers are weird.

At WriteSpace Retreat I can’t compete with these exotic or emergency surrounds. I can offer you space, light, plenty of food and good coffee and an environment that is all about productivity.

If you’re looking to try out a new place to write that doesn’t require surgery, blizzards, babies or police stations, there’s still a few chairs available on Sunday 26th July. And this time there’ll also be home-baked ginger kisses.

It’s not weird, yet, but I’m open to looking at more venue options for the WriteSpace Retreat 5-year plan.

My weird place to write

My writing in the shower