Network News: North-west, sleeping amongst the books – a writers’ retreat 1-2 October 2016

Lovely grounds for a lovely building
What bliss. Two days of concentrating on writing and other writerly activity. And where better than in a residential library? Yes, Gladstone’sLibrary has rooms you can book that are of the quality of a four-star hotel. There is a cosy lounge and all meals are provided in a very attractive dining-room that overlooks the grounds.  (by Gill James)

There are no televisions in rooms and only a couple throughout the whole building.  You can borrow DVDs to play on your lap top. Each bedroom has a radio but you should only have it on minimum volume as you are encouraged to be quiet. There is absolute silence in the reading rooms and general calm everywhere else.
Can a group of SCBWIs keep that quiet? Well, more or less, yes. We met up for meal-times, refreshment breaks and for a free-writing exercise to kick-start our weekend. I’m pleased to report that this particular exercise gave me an idea for a brand new story. A sentence about a legend attached to a well gave me the idea for something that crossed over between Agatha Christie and The Secret Garden.

We had the use of a meeting room from 9.00 a.m. on the Saturday until 12.00 on the Sunday. Tea and coffee were served there at regular intervals and it was good to know that you could always find someone there if you wanted to take a break. Just knowing that you could stop sometimes meant that you didn’t need to.  
Our lovely space!
The main rule was that there were no rules and that it was fine for folk to just take themselves off to work in isolation. Every one of us did that at some time or other. There were plenty of cosy spaces in the library and the lounge. It was also possible to work in your room.

We had planned a walk on Saturday afternoon. However, the weather was against us. Nevertheless, most of us got out at some time on Sunday. The village is very pretty and there are some very nice walks nearby. 
Many of us find that walking provides good thinking time.  

For me personally this weekend was very special. I retired form my day job on 30 September. I’m now hoping to get more time to write and this weekend was meant to kick-start that process. Certainly, my output this weekend was twice what I normally manage.

And well, we just had to celebrate that didn’t we? 

Pink cava for a new writing regime

After dinner on Saturday evening we discussed a few of those matters that concern us as writers. It’s reassuring that we share the same hopes and fears.

Three of us shared a critique session on Sunday morning. As ever it was good to get fresh eyes looking at our work. It is always so useful to find out what other people have understood from what you have written. 

Have you told the story you intended to tell?   

We really were well looked after. The food was superb and there was plenty of it. The staff at Gladstone’s were friendly and helpful. Would I do it again? You bet! In fact, I’d even go there on my own for a few days if I had a deadline looming.           

Gill James writes for young adults and is currently working on a series of stories set in Nazi Germany.   
She has recently retired form the day job and hopes to find more time to write.          


  1. It was great to share your retirement weekend, Gill. Thanks again for the goodies you brought.You forgot to mention George's little performance :-) x


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