I am currently in the Cotswolds on a long-awaited writing retreat (I know, right!). I first heard about this retreat, led by the amazing Kate Forsyth, a couple of years ago when Kate was first planning the retreat. It sounded amazing and something that I would really like to do for a couple of reasons. Firstly, for the writing element having done a writing retreat a couple of years ago, and secondly for the location. Seriously, the Cotswolds – the beautiful, quaint, literary Cotswolds!
The first retreat ran last year but I was unable to attend (I may have cried, I’m not telling) so I spent the remainder of the year anxiously awaiting the announcement of dates for this year. Finally, as a ‘Merry Christmas’ they were announced and I was able to book myself on this trip. I cannot tell you how excited I was when that email came through – truly, I don’t think you would believe a grown woman could be as giddy as I was (and in a public place).
So, long story long, here I am sitting in my room at the Lygon Arms in Broadway on Day Three of the retreat feeling thoroughly inspired for so many reasons.
One of those reasons is this location – we arrived in Oxford on Day One and had the most amazing tour with our guide, Roger (patience of a Saint, has our Roger). We saw the Aslan door that inspired C.S. Lewis and sat at the table of The Inklings at the Eagle and Child. We have driven through picturesque villages where cottages have thatched rooves and churchyards have statues so old the ivy has consumed it. The gardens here are so pretty I would not be at all surprised to see fairies dancing underneath the flowers.
Another reason for my inspiration is my companions. It is such a wonderful group with everyone keen to absorb the atmosphere of the place and the lessons of the day. We are also a small group – only six students – which has made it much easier to get to know each other quite quickly and helps make both writing sessions and tours much more intimate and personal. They have all been so warm and welcoming that I look forward to learning more about each of them and their stories.
Of course, the Number One reason would have to be the course itself and our fabulous teacher – Kate. This is the third class I have taken with her and I am never disappointed as she is a great teacher – so generous with her time and is able to deconstruct the writing processes and conventions so that even I can understand them. You can hear her passion for writing in her voice and see it in her face as she talks to us and that passion is contagious.
We have been in the Cotswolds for three days now and have had two classes with Kate but the inspiration is already coursing through my body. I had the most brilliant moment this morning as Kate was explaining ‘eucatastrophe’ to us and I realised what was missing from my first story, which has been sitting on the backburner for about a year now.