So here I am, in the wilds of Welsh Wales on a writing retreat organised by Milford SF Writers (of which I am the secretary – so yes, theoretically I organised it myself). The venue is Trigonos, the village is Nantlle, about nine miles south of Caernarfon. It’s on the edge of Snowdonia, so if you look up the valley from Trigonos’ private lake frontage, you can see Mount Snowdon in the distance on a clear day, (which it is, today).
From my bedroom window I have a view across Trigonos’s lawn down to the lake and the Nantlle Ridge opposite.
Why a writing retreat when I have a perfectly functional office at home and all day every day to sit at my computer?
Like-minded company. I’m here in the company of eleven other science fiction and fantasy writers, so we eat (and talk) together, make occasional forays to the nearest shop when we run out of essentials (wine and chocolate, mostly), and congregate in the library after dinner if we want to be sociable. (And yes, we are a sociable lot, though it’s not obligatory if anyone wants to pound the keyboard after dinner.)
It’s a rare getaway. In my day job I book UK tours for folk musicians and facilitate Certificates of Sponsorship (work permits) for musicians coming to play in the UK from outside the EU. This means that some days my phone never stops ringing. To do CoS you have to be licensed by the government which means you take on a heavy legal responsibility to make sure that applicants are genuine. Our government is somewhat paranoid, assuming that everyone who comes here will skip off into the nether regions of some big city and never go home again. That, of course, simply isn’t true. Musicians have lives in their own country as well as touring commitments to other countries. I have been tremendously busy over the last few months, so I need a little uninterrupted writing time.
A getaway even from loved ones. When at home I’m always ‘on duty’ for family stuff, even if it’s only to cook a meal or take my elderly mother to the supermarket. Here, I have all day to look after number one. Meals are provided. Breakfast at 8.00, coffee and biscuits at 11.00, lunch at 1.00, cake and coffee at 4.00, dinner at 7.00.
A rare peace. Trigonos is set in beautiful surroundings. As soon as you arrive, you can breathe deeply and feel the stress melting away.
So on the face of it, I could do what I’m doing this week in the comfort of my own home, but not without interruptions and obligations. I’m doing edits for my work in progress, the Amber Crown, which is so very nearly ready to be submitted to my publisher. It’s a standalone political fantasy set in a version of the Baltic States in the 1600s. I’m really enjoying getting to grips with it – uninterrupted.