I’m a week back from the brilliant Fiction Writing Course run by the Arvon Foundation, and am still suffering severe withdrawal pangs. It was an intense and wonderful experience and I’m buzzing from it all.
Set deep in the rolling hills of Shropshire, in the former home of the English playwright, John Osborne, the course brought together 14 individuals with a common passion for writing under the tutorship of Jeremy Sheldon, who tutors in Birkbeck College, and Lana Citron, author. We stayed in the stately country home of the former playwright, set on 30 acres of land, filled with broadleafed woodland, mysterious winding paths, a lily pond and pastures of grazing sheep. With no internet connection and minimal phone coverage, we were completely isolated, which was the whole idea, encouraging us to focus on the intensity of the writing experience.
It was so inspiring to be breathing, dreaming and speaking all things writing for an entire week with others who share my passion. Shared meals (usually accompanied by lively and animated chat), workshops, tutorials, readings, free writing time and the slightly magical setting all conspired to produce a sharp and focussed period of creativity.
Because we were removed from the reality and buseyness of our daily lives, everything else got put aside in favour of the focus of the week, which for us, was characterisation. We worked on the development of unique character attributes, dialogue, points of view and character depth. The food was wonderful and abundant – with terrific vegetarian dishes – while the wine was copious, adding a major element to the richness of after-dinner conversations.
I’d love to get the opportunity to attend an Arvon Foundation course every year. If any of you are thinking of it and have the means and opportunity, I would highly recommend it. It’s a brilliant week.