Wednesday 17 February 2021

The accidental writer's retreat by Tracy Darnton

I have finally finished and delivered my new manuscript to my editor. 

There are few moments that give you that end of exam/term/handed in homework feeling as a writer. Let me revel in having finished something, in having got something off my desk onto someone else's - even though I know deep down it is a brief reprieve before the edit letter.

It has been a colossal effort to write this one, juggling a plethora of timelines, clues, red herrings and psychological themes. And, hard as I try, I can't turn myself into a planner. But I am very good at moaning - I have moaned a lot to my patient crit group writer friends.

I needed headspace for the last push to make it all fall into place - and what with all the complications of life and family (and lockdown malaise) I'd been finding that difficult. I came off social media on 4th January for the run up to our house move. And then I moved house to a quiet village. Quieter than we knew as so far we have no TV reception, no DAB radio, no mobile phone reception. I focused for days on unpacking boxes and solving problems - and finally on writing a novel. 

I'm enjoying the quiet. We left behind our city neighbours through the thin shared wall and the noisy DIY projects of the whole street. And we haven't started our own noisy projects yet. I've only driven out of the village once in a month. 

I haven't seen any friends IRL, even for a permitted lockdown walk. I've befriended a pheasant and called it Bertie. (My son tells me that 'Bertie' may be several pheasants who all look and sound pretty much the same to the untrained eye - me.)


In short, I have become a writing hermit on retreat, down to the wild, greying hair and wearing the same moth-eaten jumper for days on end. 

It feels weird now to emerge blinking from my little office. What did I used to do? I really should sort out a TV aerial, go back to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and see what I've missed. I really should...

But there's plenty of time for that. First I might detangle my hair and walk up the nearby hill to pick up any text messages. Maybe see what Bertie's up to.

I'd been meaning to go on a writer's retreat and I've accidentally been on one in my own house and rather liked it. 

Tracy Darnton is the author of YA thrillers The Rules and The Truth About Lies. And another one!!!!


Joan Lennon said...

Sounds blissful (not the moving, but the other stuff). And we've had a spider named Timmy in this house for the last 25 years. Still as spry as ever.

Tracy Darnton said...

We don't have any pets so Bertie is definitely filling a gap. I shall look out for one of Timmy's cousins too ...

Sue Purkiss said...

My guess is that Bertie is just the one pheasant. We used to have a little pheasant family that would come and visit quite regularly. Your retreat sounds very productive!