My time at Almond Tree Retreat

I'm not sure how it has gone so fast (actually yes, I do, but that's part and parcel of constantly running around after kids, right?) but a month ago I was in South Australia visiting Fiona McIntosh's Almond Treat Retreat.

almond tree retreat

I'll give you one word: bliss.

I was there for 4 nights with Fiona, her trusty sidekick, Nathan, who brought us endless cups of tea on demand, and two other writers, Shell and Ellie.

Our days were spent discussing writing and the publishing industry, chatting about each of our current works in progress, actually writing (of course!), drinking tea and eating well. Just quietly, it was difficult to come home and have to cook again after being so well looked after for the duration of our stay.

As I said to Fiona as we were leaving, it is all well and good to do workshops and go to conferences, which are valuable learning situations in themselves and I would definitely do more if the right ones arose, but to go somewhere and discuss just the story you are working on - workshopping it, having others read it and make valuable comments on what works and what doesn't (i.e. what is crap and boring and what is really good!) - was the most beneficial thing I've done for my writing in a long while.

The company was splendid and even though I hadn't met anyone before, we all immediately fell into comfortable camaraderie and candid discussions.

I would definitely recommend to all writers whether you are aspiring, emerging or established, to look into attending Fiona's retreat, or as both Shell and Ellie have also done, attend her Masterclass.

Personally, I have new deadlines for my manuscript and with a newfound clarity on what I am writing (I think before I was just floating along with a story in mind, but not 100% certain how to go about the elements of my plot ... if that makes sense?). I've made declarations in the past about how I'm going to finish it soon and it didn't happen. Numerous times. And that shits me. I am an organised person, so to say I'll finish something and then not?! Makes me cranky. Anyhoo. Oh, and yet I can write short stories no worries at all. This longer one is proving to be a trial to complete, but as I said, it will get finished, one way or another...

How is now any different? I have a confidence in my writing (and perhaps that was a part of it, too - can I really write? Do people really want to read my stuff?), some new plot elements to work in, a character who was playing a smallish part and has risen to become a major influencer, and the idea that maybe, just maybe, I have something a publisher might want to see. I reckon that's motivation.

cat writing meme

So. I'd like to know - where are you at on your work in progress? Swimming along in a steady freestyle or bumbling about in a dodgy butterfly? I feel like I'm slightly in between at the moment - moving towards a steady freestyle 🙂


2 Responses

  1. Fabulous post Sueanne. Oh how I miss Almondtree and the four of you 💙 We had so much fun and learnt such a lot about ourselves and our MS's. I love how we all just clicked 💞 and so openly shared our lives with each other. I too miss out cups of tea and cake on call (thank you Nathan) and Fiona's wisdom and yours and Ellie's wisdom too 🌺 I totally agree that the retreat was brilliant, beyond my wildest dreams, especially being able to workshop our actual WIP's in real time, with one of the most masterful storytellers out there. I came back to Sydney with a renewed zest for my story and a belief that I can finish it. It's amazing what a dose of the ol' McIntosh Magic can do for an aspiring author and I will never forget my time at Almondtree or you guys 💐 Oh and thanks for the link to blog (must write a new post 😁). Xx
    • We really do need to have a reunion in another year or so - somewhere, anywhere!

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