My Writing Retreat

Welsh Wales

Some of you may be aware that I went on a Writing Retreat in Wales this week and a subset of those (hi, Dee) asked me to write about it, and so this is me doing that.

On Saturday I boarded a train bound for new horizons, with joy in my heart and writerly optimism bubbling out of my every pore. I was going on my first ever Writing Retreat and it was to last five days and nights in (mostly rainy) Wales.

On Monday I boarded another train bound for home with a flea in my ear and a lot to think about. I had been asked to leave the Writing Retreat, and I had departed with not one word of protest.

It’s only today, the day I was due to arrive back home if all had gone to plan, that I can write about this impartially. Today is the first day that have spent without thinking about the retreat at all (apart from now obviously, but that doesn’t really count).

I have gone through a lot of soul searching to arrive at this point. I have, in fact, gone through a modified version of the five stages of grieving as developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. My version was more like:

  1. Trying to understand what the heck I’d done wrong – I thought I’d hid my derision better than that
  2. Wanting to send a passive aggressive email to the organiser explaining why I was absolutely right and the rest of the world was nuts
  3. Sending love, love and more love to those poor, poor people to make up for me having been such a burden on their beautiful lives
  4. Getting on with trying to read my book on the train only to be interrupted by troubling thoughts about the retreat every 5 seconds
  5. Rejoicing that I’d escaped from that den of … ahem … people with different ideas to me about writing with a full refund and an intact soul.

The exact script (as I remember it) of my dismissal was (something like) this:

Jan: “We’re sorry but this is not working out for us.”

Pete: “I guess that you feel the same way too.”

Jan: “There have been complaints about you and so we’d like you to leave. We’ll give you a full refund. Peter will give you a lift to the train station.”

Robert: “Okay,  give me ten minutes.”

My thoughts at that point were along the lines of square pegs and round holes. It wasn’t exactly an ideal match for me, and obviously it wasn’t for them either. Most of the group were poets, all had been there before, all were women of a certain age (apart from Nick, who was a man of a certain age) and there was the distinct feeling that I had happened across an incestuous family who didn’t want me to play with their toys.

I didn’t go out of my way to deliberately annoy anyone – I would probably have been ejected on the first day if I’d let my true feelings be known, but at the same time, I can see how my boisterous nature and forthright manner were not exactly in keeping with the club policy.

Still, three days in Wales for the price of a rail ticket can’t be too bad – right? 🙂

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91 thoughts on “My Writing Retreat

  1. Oh, Robert, I am so angry on your behalf! Yes, I’m sure it’s just as well you didn’t stay, but, sheesh, how incredibly rude they were. They actually said people complained about you?? That even hurts my feelings! You know I love your sense of humor and even though we’ve disagreed sometimes, we’ve talked it out and are as close as two people can be who are separated by miles and miles of ocean 😉 next time come to the States and we’ll set up a fabulous writing retreat!

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  2. Oh, noooo! I’ve been looking forward to reading about the retreat. Well, your post is excellent, like reading a really good story (which it is). Fish out of water. That’s what we say here. Obviously they all had closed minds. How unfortunate for them. As you say, a free trip to Wales can’t be all bad.

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    • No, Elaine. I think that I had about as much as I could take. It was good of the course leader to let me off the hook. It was kind of her to see my pain and put me out of it. 🙂 Do read much of what I write here? *Robert wonders to himself if he should be embarrassed*

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