Last Saturday, four of us, Francesca Capaldi Burgess, Elaine Everest and Natalie Klienman and I descended upon Whitstable, Kent, for a week-long writing retreat. What a wonderful place, it feels untouched by modern life with its small individual shops. Not a chain store in sight. Although the wind was high, the sun was shining and the cottage we rented was lovely and spacious, so finding our own writing space was not difficult.
Two of us were writing an existing work in progress, the third was editing, while the fourth was writing the opening chapter. I’m not sure out of those three options, which are the easiest. As a writer will tell you, the opening chapter is probably the most important one as you need to hook your readers. Personally, I have six versions of my opening chapter where I keep making changes. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of editing. Although, it has to be said I love the result of a finely tuned sentence, scene or chapter.
None of us knew the detail of each other’s stories but every so often someone would ask a question and that would give us an insight into what was being written about. This was followed by calls of “I can’t get on the Internet”, which made us realize how we can’t function without it.
It didn’t take long to settle down to our own way of working, each of us lost in our own worlds. The weather was glorious and the days were broken up with wonderful walks along the beach and that certainly blew the cobwebs away and got the blood pumping round the body, and of course something fishy for lunch; you can’t go to Whitstable and not have fish.
Francesca and Elaine put Natalie and I to shame when we were too cold to walk down to the beach and look at the sunset but Francesca took a lovely photo of it, which I laughingly said I would claim as my own.
Plenty of delicious food passed through our lips and of course the odd glass of wine. On the last day we spent a couple of hours visiting the individual shops that is Whitstable. We came home ladened with fish, cheese and the local ale.
We had a day out in Margate where we visited the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery and found places to eat, where they played some fantastic music.
I was very pleased with writing just over ten thousand words, especially as we had the day out. I know the other ladies that write achieved their own goals for the week, so I believe we can call it a success.
It was certainly a worthwhile exercise and one I would be happy to repeat.