Some impressions of August’s SoAIS retreat at Glenalmond from a few of the attendees
From James Andrew
A retreat from the world so that the author can concentrate on writing and talking to other writers. Who could turn that down? This was both reasonably priced and comfortable. We each had a study bedroom and access to Glenalmond facilities such as a library for the studious and a swimming pool for the energetic. There were comfortable common rooms for social interaction, too. Meals were provided in the Glenalmond College dining room and they were better than any meals they served up at my school. The Glenalmond grounds are also conducive for a relaxing stroll. It’s a bit like Hogwarts someone said, and architecturally it is, though the only magical thing I noticed was the constant sunny weather which we had every day for the whole week – in Scotland! Yes. This was an enjoyable week and I came back having fulfilled all the writing tasks I set myself. Thanks to Tita and Mac – and the Society of Authors in Scotland.
From Catherine Simpson
There was a magical quality to the five days on retreat with the SoAiS at Glenalmond College: the Hogwartian setting; the tolling of the college bell; the vast, velvet lawns; the silent library; the blazing sunshine; and the tuck shop full of Cadbury’s chocolate.
I arrived with the intention of setting off a new long project and found it easy to keep my concentration. I met up with fellow retreaters for lunch and dinner and it was a privilege to meet writers of many genres and types, but for the most part I kept my head down to maximise work time. It was wonderful to be separated from reality for five days to give me thinking, reading and writing time – no meals to make, no shopping to do, no distractions. Perfect.
Our organisers Mac Logan and Tita Berredo had done an outstanding job setting up this retreat, for which I was very grateful. I will definitely be putting my name down for any future retreat – a fantastic opportunity to enter an uninterrupted world of creativity.
From Cynthia Rogerson
I had never been on a retreat (or a course) and wasn’t sure it was for me. My goal was to get a body of work done, or at least half done, and by the end of the retreat I had succeeded. It helped greatly to be away from the normal distractions of home – family, friends, housework, garden, grandkids, chores.
The place itself was beautiful and interesting, and not too crowded. The other participants were all so different from each other and yet there was a commonality. The amount of socialising was sometimes more than I wanted to do, but it never felt uncomfortable to quietly slip away. There seemed to be an aura of mutual respect in the group and this was beneficial. I felt like a serious writer, something that is hard to sustain in normal life. I highly recommend it!
From Ingman Brown
What could be better for a middle-grade author than a writing retreat based in the grounds of an old college so reminiscent of Hogwarts that even the flocks of house martins looping through the corridors took on a magical quality? The Society of Authors in Scotland retreat at Glenalmond was a heady mix of inspiration, productive writing time, good food and wonderful company, all within the beautiful surroundings of the college. I particularly appreciated those moments when fellow writers were open about their life experiences or shared their writing practice, and I learnt much from both.
For me, the week was a fusion of playfulness and depth, from our daily swim in the college pool (which we had all to ourselves) to evening conversations over a glass of wine or whiskey. These moments shaped my writing in unexpected ways too, with the narrative section of my PhD thesis developing in a way that both surprised and delighted me. It’s great when that happens, isn’t it? There were lots of atmospheric writing spaces – the old library, the various common rooms, or outside in the grounds, where one could punctuate writing with a stroll along the river or find a quiet spot beside the cricket pitch to plot and plan. I left the retreat having achieved my writing goal – to finish the PhD section I had been working on. More importantly, I left with friendships I know will continue to be enriching. I thoroughly recommend future writing retreats and am thankful to Tita and Mac for all their organisational efforts and care. Thanks also to the whole group for welcoming a pilgrim from North Yorkshire!