Freedom to write

Does the sort of writing you do at work or ‘real life’ ever get you down? I am thinking of the things we have to write as part of the day job (if you have one), the forms we have to fill in, the lists we have to make and the records we have to keep. Thinking of my own current workload, there is little that is interesting about updating your accounts (she said, with feeling), or filling in a funding application (she said, with more feeling), and yet these tasks often represent our main keyboard or pen usage in the typical working week. And, of course, they are necessary and can lead to good things (tax rebates she said, hopefully; funds for an exciting new project she said, even more hopefully).

Two weeks from now I shall be hosting The Writing Retreat with my colleague Kath Morgan. It is our first collaboration of this type, although we are both seasoned writing workshop facilitators and teachers, and have both run and attended other retreats. At this stage our lives are full of lists; to do lists, shopping lists, guests lists, running orders, train timetables, taxi numbers, recipes – all necessary to the smooth running of what will be a great week. The pressure is on to get it ready in time and we will, of course, because of all the lists and because that is the sort of people we are.

Spurring me on as we count down to the start of the retreat is the thought that in two weeks a group of eight writers will gather in our beautiful venue, with the sole purpose of writing. They will have complete freedom to do this and, we hope, an absence of pressure, because of the lists and running orders we are making now. I cannot wait to hear the quite thrum of the house as writers get down to work in their rooms, nooks and crannies, and all the background work we are doing now comes quietly to fruition.


This is the thought makes me look with new interest at a shopping list that includes items such as 40 organic sausages, a bag of lemons, candles, and tarragon.


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