Monday, 27 April 2015

Retreat and Advance

We arrived in Whitstable on Saturday afternoon in glorious sunshine, four writers away for a week with the aim of leaving distractions behind and getting on with it. Entering into the spirit of the thing did we begin working immediately? Of course not. Instead we walked along the front and drank in the atmosphere, going out in the evening for a first class meal at the Samphire prior to starting work in earnest on Sunday morning…and start we did.

This isn’t the first retreat I’ve been on and I’m well aware of the benefits of dedicating time to a particular project, and we all have one of those. With a study, lounge, conservatory and large kitchen accommodating a large table, all inter-connected, we sat, each of us, in a different part of the house and all that could be heard was the clicking of keys as Elaine Everest, Francesca Capaldi Burgess, Elaine Roberts and I lost ourselves in our own little world. A new novel was begun, the first three chapters of another finely tuned and a third, at something over ten thousand words in, expanded upon. My own work in progress is a first draft and I am hoping to use the time to develop my characters, maybe to introduce a new sub-plot and generally to complete the first edit, though I have no expectation of finishing it in the time available. That said, it’s amazing how much can be achieved in a morning when the phone isn’t ringing or, with one designated coffee break, one isn’t jumping up to make a drink or feed the cat or, well, anything other than writing.

I looked up at one point to see the other three in rapt concentration and I realised that I had no idea what they were seeing or where they were. In this country? In Australia or the US? Our stories would all be different, the only similarity being that they would all have an element of romance. We are, after all, romantic fiction writers.

I know crabs walk sideways
but this is ridiculous
Whitstable is a quaint seaside town, one we’ve all visited before.
Having satisfied ourselves that we’d used the morning wisely we set out to explore the High Street, not populated by chains but with individual shops carrying individual wares. We indulged in a little window shopping. Back at our holiday home (holiday?) we resumed our positions and that is where I am now, writing this ready to post tomorrow morning so that the rest of the week can be dedicated to what I came here to do – to work. Tonight though we will of course be watching the final episode of Poldark!

Let no-one underestimate the potential of taking this time out to get away from it all. From past experience I know that by the end of the week we will have achieved far more than had we been at home. We will have worked together, eaten some fine meals together, drunk a glass or two of wine and, by next weekend, will I am sure have formed the intention of doing the same again at the earliest opportunity. If you have the opportunity try it. I can’t recommend the experience too highly. 


  1. Just found this via your newest post. I live here! Whitstable, I mean. Glad you liked it.

    1. It's much loved, Lesley. Unlike some resorts, it retains all its charm and personality.