Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Well, it was one of the most stunning locations I've ever seen. That's what hit me at first. Having lived most of my life near the sea, I'm not used to those vast open expanses of mountain and they awed me, they spoke to me, they humbled me and I couldn't take my eyes off them.
The finca we stayed in was superb - a 200 year old place that had been lovingly restored and supplied comfort, relaxation with a lot of careful thought and consideration. The food was great - buffets of fresh fruit, cheese and ham etc for breakfast, gorgeous platefuls of fresh salad and wonderful cold concoctions for lunch, and for dinner - well, who knew?
And that's all before we got to the writing which was a tight timetable, but gave us plenty of workshops and one-to-one sessions, as well as time to read out and share our work with the other writers in the early evenings. Plus time to work on our own novels. Our tutor was Rosanne Ley, not only bestselling author of many novels, but a bloody good teacher!
I hit a very low spot half way through where I couldn't see where to go with my plot - well, I knew had to simplify it but nothing was making sense - and after a few sleepless nights, I cracked it. Plus we had an amazing workshop where one of my main characters suddenly leapt into life - boy that was brilliant, if harrowing.
The people were a lovely lot, all writing different things, and we left as good friends, which is how these sort of things should be, I imagine.
So I left on a wobbly high, if there is such a thing. I wasn't sure how I'd feel when I got home but surprisingly, I feel really fired up again. The enthusiasm and self belief that I'd lost has inched up a notch and my confidence is a lot better. More to the point, I am loving writing the novel again, even though i'm aware it will need a lot more editing.
So I would say, if you get the chance - go on this retreat at the Finca El Cerillo. It will be one of the most memorable experiences of your writing life.