Monday, November 10, 2008

Writing retreats and why zombies can't run

I was recently checking out the links for writers on the Writer's Beware blog and stumbled upon this very informative blog. If you check back through the posts to last week you will find some entries about writing retreats. This put me in mind of the where's and how's of my own writing retreats. I don't know about the formal retreats for writers where you have to fill out long application forms and they hold discussion groups and workshops, but I do know about the kind you organise yourself. All you need for your DIY writing retreat is
1. A guide to self catering accommodation/hotels in your country of choice. In Ireland you can purchase a booklet of Bord Failte approved self catering houses or search the Internet for similar information for free.
2. A list of search requests. These will probably include location - you might want somewhere scenic and remote, like the picture above, to help the creative juices flow or you may find the bustle of a city more conducive to writing. Price, it needs to be affordable. Facilities - unless you really want to immerse yourself in the time period of your historical romance and shun indoor plumbing, you can assume that bathrooms come as standard. However, you might like your house to have an open fire or labour saving devices like dish washers. You also have to consider whether your house is close to beaches or mountain walks, or if it allows dogs if you want to take your pet. I know you are there to write, but taking daily exercise while on your retreat will help prepare you for the work ahead and you can plan your writing while you walk.
3. A long weekend or week free to actually go on your writing retreat.
4. A manuscript or novel idea to work on.
5. Pen and paper or laptop to compose your opus magnus with.
The benefits of a writing retreat are manifold. By getting away from the normal drudge and distractions of everyday life you have more time to devote exclusively to your novel. You won't get a book written in the time you are away, but you will be able to deal with a difficult passage or write a sizable chunk that will keep you inspired when it comes time to return home. Many famous writers went on retreat to write their novels, including Agatha Christie and Ian Flemming.
The problem with writing about writing retreats is that it makes me think it is time I went on another one. I am currently planning out a new novel and a change of scene would really help me start it. I'll just have to dream about it for the moment.

Check out Simon Pegg's in depth review of E-4's zombie tv series 'Dead Set'. There is more to this boy than just a pretty face. He explains exactly why shambling zombies are more 'correct' than this modern craze for the running variety, and verbalises everything I've ever wanted to say on the subject but couldn't. I will remember his argument the next time someone tells me slow zombies 'just aren't scary'.


Valpot said...

I think a writing retreat is a great idea, especially to kick-start the next great book. The only problem is getting the money together!

I must check out Simon Pegg - and I agree that zombies should shamble.

PS where is the next chapter????

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed Simon Pegg's reveiw. Well written. It reminded me of talking to my sister as he likes all the same films as her. I have to agree the really frightening thing about vombies is their slow inexorable shamble - likening the fear they inspire to the fear of death (as opposed to sex and animals) was interesting but don't know where he was really going with it. Yes, a true vampire has an evil sensuality - but it his undead evil that is the fearsome thing, although I suppose their seducive sensuality does make that undead evil more real or does he mean we are all afraid of seducers - nice if true! The fear of the animal as shown in warewolf-don't think so. Actually, the warewolf is very much the poor cousin of the others and never can inspire that much fear. I think i would be more afraid of a bear or a hippo. But very interesting all the same.

Anonymous said...

we have been trying to contact you but cant through on your mobile or email. please contact us - Gus and Terry

G. Coppard said...

Thank you for your 'tickle on writing retreats.

I've always wanted to experience one, but scheduling and cost always kept it as a fancy.

What the heck do I need but myself, a cool place, something to write and something to write it with?

Inkpot said...

True Valpot, money is the problem with writing retreats and all other things. As regards the next chapter, I think I could say the same thing to you.

Anon, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I read it as - vampires are equated with sex and death. Yes, their sensual charms are initially charming but if you indulge in their lures it can result in you losing your soul. Rather than the werewolf meaning the fear of animals I took it to mean the fear of the beast as in the beastial side of human nature. The killer, losing control of your emotions, anger. Werewolves are mostly scary for the person who turns into one, that beast that lies within that they can't control and which attacks them unawares. Under its influence they can kill and murder even loved ones without knowing about it. I think that is quite scary. Finally the zombie represents the slow unrelenting reality of death. You can escape one of two, they aren't a threat, but there will always be more and the longer you survive the more there are going to be (after all, the longer you live the more likely you are going to die). I know these thoughts are not original to Pegg but I found them very interesting.

Hi Gus and Terry, hope things are ok with you.

Hi G, thanks for the comment. Scheduling and costs are, unfortunately, an important part of a writing retreat. You don't need much for a nice one, as you say. Good luck with organising one in the near future!