After the Retreat

Back in May a bunch of BWC members travelled to Tremelo (Flanders) for the annual BWC Writers’ Retreat. Keen attendee and next year’s convenor Ann Kronbergs was kind enough to provide a few words about the goings on of the weekend.

Siddartha in Tremelo

Siddartha in Tremelo

“This was the fourth annual BWC Writers’ Retreat held in Siddartha, a residential centre near Tremelo, a small town about 20km from Brussels. It was organised by Colette Victor, writer of short stories and novels and former BWC member.

Friday evening started with an indoor barbecue giving everyone the opportunity to exchange stories, starting off with those about their gruelling journeys from Brussels along a traffic-choked Ring Road. Tongues loosened and stories grew more expansive as boxes (and bottles) of wine were consumed over supper and after.

On Saturday morning we all re-convened in the conference room for Nathan’s morning wokshop in which he drew attention to the nuts and bolts of the writer’s craft by drawing on examples from a range of role models including F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.

In the afternoon Sabine used a writing prompt to make us all put pen to paper, leading us later in the session to edit and develop our work.  It was entertaining to hear several examples of well-written, impromptu pieces, each of which merited further development.

Saturday evening, after supper, we all sat around the fire telling ghost stories from memory. Given the cosmopolitan nature of our group it was not surprising to find that ghosts are alive and active in places as far away as South Africa or North America or as close as Bruges.

On Sunday morning David directed an ‘Extrospection’ workshop in which participants first discussed ideas about people at different stages of life. After this we each ‘created’ a character and read aloud our attempts at this exercise before joining together in small groups to create scenarios including each of our characters. This exercise generated several ‘playlets’ which were surprisingly polished and amusing to watch.

My impression was that everyone in the group enjoyed the opportunity to share time with other wannabe writers in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. The workshops were each purposeful and produced high quality writing.

Ideas have already been mooted for workshops for next year and I’m happy to be taking over from Colette as the organiser for the 2014 Writers’ Retreat. Siddartha has again been booked between 16 -18 May 2014: a date for your diaries!”

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