A phenomenal week

I had such a phenomenal time on the writing retreat.   It far, far exceeded my expectations. I’ve been writing for a few years and wanted to get serious about writing a book,  learning techniques, and finding a community of writers. As someone new to writing fiction, at first I was hesitant to sign up.  Who was Glynis? Would I get along with the other participants? Would I be good enough?

I am so glad that I did.  I found a whole new avenue for creative exploration and I owe it to my week on this beautiful little island in Italy.  The workshops are the highlight. Glynis is gifted at moderating, coaching, and teaching you new techniques.  I noticed a significant difference from the first day to my last in my writing. She pushes you to do better, but never forces you to do anything.  I left with so many ideas of what direction to take that I decided to continue working with her as a writing coach. She is a phenomenal coach – I’m making so much progress.  She helped me come up with the nuts and bolts of my book, and we talk regularly in moving that forward.

I also loved the company of the rest of the group.  We shared and encouraged each other in the workshops.  We talked for hours endlessly over dinner and wine. We laughed a lot.  But don’t worry if you want to do your own thing – there’s no pressure at all to socialize.  I thought I would be a loner, and instead I made five new friends.

Isola Maggiore is a tiny secret on a lake in Umbria.  You have to go there to see what I mean. The food was lovely – real home cooked Italian – and Mariapia, the owner of the inn, was so welcoming and accommodating.

Thanks Glynis!  I took a risk and it’s been a highlight of my year.  I’m looking forward to the next one.

– Mike, 2019

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

“We went to brush up our writing skills … It was magical.  This retreat will centre your life”   – Doreen, 2015

A look back at May

Michelangelo and Maurizio stand on the harbour with their fishing rods, waiting. The sun is just starting to dip and there’s that usual anticipation of a sky softly streaked with pink.  I’m back on Isola Maggiore for the May retreat.

Next afternoon, the writers begin to arrive, stepping off the ferry with rucksacks, cases and bags, ready to stop the clock for a week.  The days are filled with everything from writing to wandering, from reading to reflection.  There’s a lot of gazing at the lake and deep, deep sighs of contentment.

The morning workshops go organic – we span from Angela who’s new to writing to Joe who’s on a novel – and pages quickly fill with plots, people, bubbling ideas. At eleven, cappuccini and fresh croissants arrive, then off we go again.

On two evenings, Giulia comes over from Abruzzo, here to lead aperitivo time sessions in conversational Italian. We drink prosecco, laugh a lot, and head for dinner ready to practice the phrases we’ve just learned.

Isola - Libera.jpg

Dinner goes off piste. Mariapia waves the menu aside, offering us fish fresh from the lake, swirls of steaming pasta and – her Mamma’s speciality – delicious salsa di persico.  The spinaci is the best we’ve ever tasted – how does she do that? – and we can’t resist her tiramisu.

It’s a whole week of slowing right down, of taking time to savour food and new friendships, of exploring ways into writing and sharing words. For me, it’s the pleasure of knowing I’ve been of help, of hearing Angela say “I’m just so happy.”

“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.”