The Great Retreat

I’m in the middle of packing a bag (chocolate – tick) to go away on a writers’ retreat for the weekend with my lovely writing gang. The Rivermill in the lush countryside outside Downpatrick awaits. It’s not the South Pacific island of Tetiaroa, once owned by Marlon Brando, where Barack Obama wrote his memoir, but it looks amazing. I’ve been drawing up a colour-coded chapter outline (I know) so I feel prepared. C’mere sample chapter of my non-fiction book proposal, let’s be having you.

Some questions:

1. Will I have any bright ideas at all?
2. Will I do some writing or spend most of the time looking out the window and going for walks?
3. Will I love it so much I’ll want to move in?
4. Will I tell my agent I’ve done lots of work (even if I haven’t)?
5. Will I talk to my writing friends too much? (We’re bringing wine…)
6. Most of all: will I get the damn chapter done?

They say a change is as good as a rest. Having spent over a year waking up somewhere new in a van all around Europe, I’ve since moved into an actual house, with walls and everything. And with lockdowns aplenty, I’ve grown accustomed to the same rooms and the same views, even the same cutlery, for crying out loud. I wonder if sameness might dull the senses, the brain not even trying, as days turn into other days and time barely shifts.

Looking at things anew – this simple act of getting in the car and driving somewhere new, will hopefully shake my mind around a little and wake it up. Many creatives say that stepping out of routine and taking a break from life’s tasks can be the perfect way to fill up the ideas pot. Mine’s a bit empty lately.

I’ll report back next week. And hey, if it’s good enough for Barack Obama…