IT WAS ONE of the hottest days of the year. On the bus coming into Brighton, I already regretted signing up for a writing retreat in town. Doubtless I would end up in an airless room – they’re always airless in my experience – for six hours, pining for the sea and for fresh, if hot, air. But I needed peace and quiet as well as the impetus to write solidly, so – maybe – this was the right course to pursue. Spoiler alert here: Reader, it was.
It’s a short walk to West Hill Hall from Brighton station, and as I walked up the path through the garden, reassurance started to kick in. I entered the large – and airy – Hall. After a warm welcome, Anna explained the day’s plan: a writing exercise to be followed by two hours of writing separated by a break then lunch, and a chance to mingle and socialise, followed by two further one hour writing sessions, and a twenty minute one-to-one mentoring session with Anna, and two further short breaks. Also, all you had to do was raise your hand whilst writing – clever ambidextrous people we writers – and tea or coffee would be brought to your table. Could this be real? Reader, it was.
After feedback it was time to go home. Or was this the real one? One where we all had time and space to write, and where – between us – we had indeed written thousands of words. We had been nurtured – not just metaphorically, but also in reality, by a delicious lunch and truly scrumptious cakes – and had started to make new writing friends, and we had flourished under Anna’s expert guidance in that airy, welcoming space.
Reader, leave your writing anxieties at home, and come and see – and write – for yourself.
Ia Jennings, delegate
The next retreat is on 16 November 2019. To book: westhilldayretreat.eventbrite.co.uk