I’ve just returned from a five-day Writing Retreat at the Arvon Foundation’s centre at Totleigh Barton in Devon. It’s a charmingly creaky, uneven, nooks-and-crannies sort of a place dating back to pre-Domesday times, which must have been designed originally for the Seven Dwarfs – anybody over 5’4” tall will develop a crick in their neck before the week is out. Apart from the odd hot-spot in the car park (and then only if the clouds pull back), you don’t get mobile coverage, and as for email – out of the question. That makes it a perfect spot for a bit of concentrated, focused scribbling. That, plus the fact that it didn’t stop raining, not for one minute, in the whole five days.
That was the reason I managed 8,000 new words (yaaay!), before succumbing to a malicious virus of the medical kind, which by Thursday, had fogged up my brain-cells and clogged up my sleep-deprived body. On Friday I surrendered to it and stayed in bed all afternoon. But all things considered, I call 8,000 words, and coming within spitting distance of the finish line (first draft only), a result.
When I can detach myself from the box of Kleenex and breathe again without the aid of Strepsils, here’s where I’ll be picking up from:
‘Why are you doing this?’ squeals posh-boy. ‘What have I ever done to you?’
He smiles. What kind of a question is that?
‘I just don’t like your face,’ he says.