31st August – 2nd September 2018
Boghill Centre, County Clare, Ireland
Retreat for two days and two nights to the moors and woods of the west of Ireland. Spend the days with other writers, learning, writing, talking. Let the weather and the wilds and the old spirits in the hedgerows and the streams have their way with you. What will be the impact on your words?
This is a weekend-long course for writers of any kind, with any level of experience, who want to re-inject some of the spirit of nature into their work. In a time in which our lives are increasingly tamed, monitored, controlled and urbanised, our words and our stories are in danger of going the same way. Our writing may be in danger of becoming too safe – and perhaps a little too human.
What does writing look like when it is exposed to the wildness outside our bubble of convenience? What do the beaches and the hedgerows and the winds have to teach us about what we could do with our stories and our style? How could your writing benefit from letting some more ragged, messy, natural energy come in and toy with it?
Some writing courses focus on making your writing as professional, accessible and saleable as possible. They will teach you about presentation, about genre and about how to give ‘the market’ what it wants. Maybe they’ll even offer you tips on how to write letters to agents and publishers. This is all useful stuff, and on this weekend we will be doing none of it. On this course, I will be trying as hard as I can to make your writing unprofessional. I’ll encourage you to ignore your audience, forget about whatever you think publishers might want, and instead go direct to the heart of the matter – why you write, what fires your words, and how you can make them as true to your own vision as possible.
We will focus on following your inner voice with rigour: on writing what you need to write, and on following your words wherever they take you. And we will focus, together, on the role which the non-human world – the world of nature – plays in informing your writing; whether you know it or not.
Questions we will explore together, and which you will explore through your writing, will include:
- What is the story you were meant to tell?
- Where do stories come from – and what do they want from you?
- What is the role of landscape and nature in writing – and how can you listen to what it has to say?
- What role does image play in creating powerful writing?
- How can you uncivilise your style – let the wildness in to your writing?
- How can folk tales, myths and archetypes inform your work?
With the help of writers from Robert Graves to Black Elk, D. H. Lawrence to Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver to R. S. Thomas, we’ll explore the urgency of the writer’s task, help you to discover the fire that lies beneath your words, and give you permission to write not like a machine, but like an animal.
Location and travel
This will be an intense, busy but fun weekend, made up of teaching sessions, exercises, storytelling, time spent outside and time to write and/or relax with other writers.
The venue for the course is The Boghill Centre in County Clare, Ireland. Nestled in the heart of the Burren, one of Western Europe’s most remarkable natural landscapes, Boghill is welcoming but remote. You’ll be sleeping in bunk rooms, and wifi will not be on tap. That’s part of the point. But there’ll be good vegetarian meals in the evenings, outdoor fires if the weather holds, a convivial atmosphere and the chance to mingle with other writers in one of the most beautiful spots in the west of Ireland.
The course runs from the evening of Friday 31st August until after lunch on Sunday 2nd September. You will need to be at Boghill by dinnertime on the Friday. The venue is around 3.5 hours drive from Dublin, and one hour from Shannon airport. Full travel details and directions will be provided when you book, as will a kit list of what to bring with you (you’ll need boots and a raincoat…)
Cost and booking
Prices include food, bedding and accommodation from Friday dinner until Sunday lunch, inclusive.
Hostel room: €310 (approximately £275)
Single room (4 available): €334
Twin room (4 available): €334 (per person)
The course is limited to a maximum of 15 people.
To secure a place, I ask for a non-refundable 50% deposit, which can be paid through Paypal or by bank transfer. To book a place, or if you have any questions about the course, please send me an email.