Updated: Apr 16, 2019
I've written in this blog before about how I've struggled to write since being diagnosed with breast cancer in September of last year.
Writing was my go to stress relief but with diagnosis, came a complete block with all things creative. Like my brain shut down from anything pre-cancer Debz found joy in. Now is not the time for joy, now is the time for despair.
Well, bollocks to that. Enough is enough.
So I invested in time and space for my writing but booking onto a retreat run by For Books Sake and Jane Bradley. Since meeting Jane, when she led the Write Like a Grrrl course I attended in 2017, we've become great friends, so I knew I'd be in a safe and supportive space with her. It was still nerve wracking to sign up to stay with strangers in the middle of nowhere for a few nights, but I had complete faith it would be awesome. I wasn't disappointed.
The accommodation was stunning. Clean, modern, comfortable and warm (once we worked out the underfloor heating!) A local caterer had been enlisted to provide the meals, meaning all our time could be spent writing, relaxing or drinking wine.
On the first night we had an informal check in, what were we most worried about?
My main concern was wasting the time. I'd paid for this, what if I wrote nothing like I had the past 8 months? Luckily, when I voiced my worry, heads round the table nodded in agreement. I wasn't on my own and that felt reassuring. There in the space, I felt supported, like I might actually get to where I wanted to be.
The retreat wasn't particularly structured, we were free to write when and where we wanted, or not write - if that's what we felt. We had regular check ins but from there, we were in charge of how we used our time. And that is what we had, time. No life admin knocking on our heads - does the dog need to go to the vet? Have the kids nursery bags been packed? When’s my MOT due? No distractions, no excuses.
Thankfully, it worked. I had brought all my old notebooks and spent a lot of the first day going through them, making notes of ideas I'd forgotten and striking through ideas that would never come to anything. Reading through them reassured me that this dry spell was just that, a spell of time. I had once had ideas and I would have them again. That reassurance enabled me to transfer that to actual writing. I managed to write the first draft of a short story and edit another I'd forgotten about.
After two nights, I left elated. Full of renewed energy and ideas and that has continued. The day after returning from the retreat, we went on a short family break to the Welsh seaside and I haven't stopped writing. I've written another short story and managed morning pages every day.
Its not perfect, but it's a start. I start treatment again in a few weeks and I can only hope it continues.
And the old notebooks? Inspired by the Jane, I burnt them. Goodbye to the old, in with the new.
Love and hugs