Earlier this week I worked at the final 2015 Next Big Thing event for The Wheeler Centre. This was a night for 5 of the Hot Desk Fellows to read an extract from the work they’ve been developing during their 2 month residency. It was also, as they said, a time to catch up with each other. Although their desks were side by side, each writer has used their time to focus on their own project. Sure there were the hellos and how are yous, typical of any office or work environment, but that was usually about it. This was time to work.
Hearing this really reminded me of the Sundays that I’ve spent feeding and watching WriteSpace Retreat writers. I’ve tweeted and posted about how productive, and quiet, they are, and I think it’s something we should keep celebrating.
While I love using this quote as a fallback sometimes –
“What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.” Burton Rascoe
– the five (all female incidentally) writers that we heard from sat at desks that face a blank wall.
Listening to the scripts and stories from these women I thought about the retreats I’ve hosted this year and came to the conclusion that just being around, but not distracted by, other writers, even in a plain, functional space, can be just what you need to do hard work that yields tangible results.
I’m looking forward to meeting more writers and watching you work in 2016.
And if you want to read about how the evening inspired me to get back to my keyboard, I wrote about it here.
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.
Sometimes I cringe when I see a headline that has anything to do with writing tips. There is no shortcut or secret that will make it easier or a guaranteed success, whatever your definition of that is. But sometimes insights from writers resonate and motivate and need to be stuck on a post-it at your desk or saved as a screen saver or tattooed on your hand.
In The Stinging Fly’s publication of the six prize-winning stories from the 2014 Davy Byrnes Short Story Award, they included an Author’s Note for each piece. Two of these talk about the process of writing the story as well as what it’s about –
Julian Gough – ‘Harvest’
“One morning, I decided I’d write a story, because I hadn’t for a while. I sat down, and asked my subconscious, which is always composting experience into material, to give me something…”
“I’m very happy with how it turned out. But I’m still not entirely sure who wrote it.”
Colm McDermott – ‘Absence’
“When I started writing the story I’d no idea where it was going. All I knew was that I wanted to write about a woman stripped of the things which, in her mind, made her a woman…”
“In the end, the story became about endurance. A person’s need to go on and their ability to go on, despite everything. Since I was on the road so much, and could only cobble together a few hundred words at a time, the story was written in this spirit, a spirit of defiance, a refusal on my part to stop writing until I’d wrung the whole thing out.”
Not only have these writers given us stories that are beautiful, powerful and enduring, they’ve also shown that there is no better tip than this: Write. Just Write.
I really enjoy preparing and providing plenty of food to the writers at WriteSpace Retreats, which includes the specialty fruit loaves from Oliver Lane.
They’ve been kind enough to offer our first business sponsored place to a writer for the retreat on Sunday 13th September. If you’d like to win a place to join us, just email me with your name, FB/Twitter details (so that I can promote your good news) and a brief summary of what you might work on during the day (not compulsory, just because I’m curious). Jen firstname.lastname@example.org
For you or the writer in your life.
Launching Melbourne’s newest writing retreat – WriteSpace is an easy-to-get-to metropolitan escape. It’s a whole day for you to dedicate to your writing project in the company of other writers.
Here’s what WriteSpace is all about and why you, or the writer in your life, deserves it.
The first retreat is on Sunday 21st June at CAE, 253 Flinders Lane.
You’re welcome to arrive anytime from 9.30am and we’ll be open for you to keep working until 5pm.
Please get in touch to ask any questions or make a booking. Jen Squire
You deserve time to write