Prosecco, pasta and a different pace

Sometimes we take a punt on an adventure and it really pays off!

I was thinking about what sort of holiday I would like, when I saw the advert for Glynis’s writing retreat.  That’s it!  That’s just what I want to do.  My writing experience was limited to a rough draft of a short story and a few poems.  But there was something appealing about the adventure of finding my way by train and boat to an island in the middle of Italy and seeing whether I had any talent for writing.

Isola - Angela back

Glynis provided an encouraging, safe and fun place to explore writing potential.  Her short, playful exercises help stimulate creativity and there is a good balance between workshops, time to rest and do one’s own thing, with lovely treats mixed in.  These included an afternoon trip round the island in a boat and prosecco aperitifs one evening.

Mariapia, the hotel owner, is very welcoming and the dinners made by her mamma are gorgeous.  Even now I am salivating at the thought of Pasta Bolognese!  Together with a large glass of Merlot and good conversation, the evenings were a special way to end the day.

It was great to be away from the madding crowds and traffic and live life at a different pace for a while.

Thanks to Glynis and her capacity to critique in a constructive, kind and helpful way, I am now working on a second draft of my short story.

– Angela, May 2016

What to expect

I wasn’t sure what to expect of the writing retreat initially.  You’re at home in the English winter and you discover there’s a retreat in Italy in September.  You’ve no holiday booked and you’ve put writing off for what seems forever. Then on the spur of the moment you just think ‘why not?’

So off I went, and in two hours I’m in Rome.  Hot, vibrant and bustling.  The excitement of travelling through Italy by train to the beautiful town of Arezzo for one night and then the next day a train and ferry to Isola Maggiore.

Time has stood still there and within hours I felt relaxed, but excited about the week to come.  How had Glynis discovered this tranquil island where the pace of life is like none I’ve ever known?

I wanted time to get back to my writing and this was the perfect solution.  Inspirational sessions led by Glynis and the added bonus of a wonderful camaraderie with the other writers.  Sharing ideas, experiences and I loved every minute.

Other highlights included the welcoming islanders, the little restaurants and discovering the island itself.  Either walking and enjoying the wonderful views, or heading off with my notebook and a head full of ideas that I needed to get down on paper.

I sat, undisturbed for hours, thinking and writing.  No interruptions whatsoever other than the noises of the island … The wind in the trees, birdsong and the sound of the water gently lapping on the small beach.

It wasn’t a real beach, just a rocky outcrop, but it was my beach.

I found the week to be more inspiring than I’d ever have imagined.  It was just what I needed to help me. My characters developed from being two names to being living breathing characters … all the things Glynis had said helped everything fall into place. It was a real moment of clarity. I couldn’t wait to see what my characters would do next.

I’ve never felt more relaxed and more creative and that’s in no small part due to Glynis’ support and encouragement.

Isola Maggiore is a secret hideaway that’s the perfect place to write, but also relax and make you think differently about a lot of things.

Would I go back?  I have to …

-Tony Dixon 2015 Retreat Participant