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!