28 February 2020 | Poetry, Uncategorised, Workshops, Writing

Springfield writing retreat

Dear blog readers,

It’s been a while! I intended to take a three-week blogging break after Christmas. Then four of the five of us came down with the flu, then I caught up on my missed editing work, and then I went away for a week. So it’s been a while.

I want to tell you about the amazing week I experienced at a writer’s retreat at Springfield Farm, outside of Bowral, New South Wales. Imagine idyllic green paddocks, a couple of dams, a long, tree-lined driveway leading to a beautiful farmhouse with comfortable, spacious rooms. Gorgeous textiles, furniture with character. Views from every room. Verandahs to lounge in. Plus a writing studio, a yoga studio and accommodation in separate buildings.

There was the soul-nourishing vegan food – home-grown with care, cooked with passion, shared with love. Yoga was optional every morning but why miss out on gentle stretches, loose dancing and mindful movements, taught with lots of heart?

Sarah Selecky, a Canadian writer best known for her latest book, Radiant shimmering light, taught us every day. (You can read my review of Sarah’s book in an earlier post here.) Sarah focuses on using ‘deep noticing’ in nature as a way of connecting to our writing practice. She led us through free-writing exercises, gave us readings for discussion, and walked with each of us to discuss our writing. Sarah gave me tips to make my writing more concrete – I can be a little abstract, too feely-feely, not grounded enough.

The most compelling thing she told us was that our story is wiser than we are, and with a balance of deep noticing and imaginative, creative writing, we can find our way. To trust the space between the concrete words on the page and the reader’s experience of those words because it’s in the space that the magic happens.

There was such a wonderful sense of connection between the nine writers and the amazing support crew at Springfield. (Kinchem, Peter, Eilish, Michaela and Ryan – I can’t imagine how well-fed and well-nurtured I’d feel if you’d move to Melbourne!) Being part of a creative community for a week was an amazing experience – there’s nothing like feeling supported, validated and understood from a creative tribe. I loved hearing the other talented writers’ stories, both about themselves and in their readings on our last night.

While there was much on offer – yoga, foliage creations, bush walks, massages, gardening – there was so much spaciousness to write. I wrote about fifteen poems for my new book and discovered the themes and motifs through writing small pieces.

Springfield, I’ll be back!

Her sheer audacity



Sounds wonderful. Now onward and upward! I have just finished A month of Sundays. Very similar.

February 28, 2020 at 6:38 am


Glad you enjoyed it so much, Karen. Looking forward to some more of your blogs now.

February 28, 2020 at 7:45 am


Welcome back, Karen!

February 28, 2020 at 8:59 am


Lovely to hear from you and great to hear you are all well and back in track.
What a beautiful retreat!

February 28, 2020 at 9:17 am


Sounds wonderful, Karen. Your story about your week long retreat transported me to there instantly. I could see, hear, smell and feel the fabulous surrounds and experience. So pleased for you – what a brilliant way to kick off your writing journey for 2020. Great to have you back with your weekly blogging. I enjoy reading your blogs each and every Friday morning on my train trip to work. Thanks!

February 29, 2020 at 3:38 pm

Caz Touzeau

Sounds like heaven Karen.

March 1, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Jayne Campbell

Sounds fabulous Karen! What a lovely rest for the mind and soul x

March 2, 2020 at 9:21 am

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