Thursday 21 April 2022

A Small Miracle of a Retreat by Anne Booth

On Friday I am going to a lovely place, run by two incredibly kind people.  The first time I booked to go, on strong recommendation, was in June 2017, and I cancelled literally the day before I was due to go, because my dad was very ill, and I feared he was going to die. He died the next day, the very day I was due to travel, and I was so lucky to be able to be with him, so I made the right decision.  I will never forget the kindness of Janie and Mickey Wilson, who run Chez Castillon Writers retreat, in the South of France,  because even though I had cancelled the actual day before, they were so lovely and still insisted that I transferred the whole week to another week, and so I ended up going in September and getting loads of work done. Mickey and Janie are wonderful hosts and I have visited a few times since then and have loved it each time.  Chez Castillon is a beautiful, kind place where  I can focus on writing, and I love the company of other writers working, and the delicious  food, and Charlie the cat and Rory the dog and the  town, and the river,  and the church across the road and the bar around the corner!

I am going there to write my sequel to my debut adult novel 'Small Miracles', which is due out in August,

and the fact that I am going there at all this week is itself a small miracle.  Janie and Mickey had to close during lockdown, and when they opened again, starting with this retreat, they sent around emails telling past visitors they were open again. I replied I was so pleased they were open, and I was looking forward to coming back, but I didn't have any money to come at the moment. 'Don't you remember  before lockdown that you already paid a deposit for you and your husband?' came the reply.  I hadn't!  They pandemic has made me forget so many things. If Janie and Mickey were less honest they could have absconded with my cash. Instead, three years after after I first paid some money down in the hope of adding more and coming back with my husband, I am using both deposits for myself and coming back on my own (my husband is very kind!) and hoping that this Friday to Thursday will work small miracles.

I think that with all the bad things going on, it is good to remember that there are still kind, honest people and beautiful places and it is OK sometimes to retreat in order to regain strength and focus. Like many I have got a bit overwhelmed by all the news and not being able to fix things, and I realise I can't carry on trying to change the world by tweeting, and I know I need to get off Twitter and  use my energy to finish writing my contracted book as I am just not getting on fast enough. I am going the week that the writer Jo Thomas is leading a retreat, so I am hoping to get wise advice and tips from her.

I hope if you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck, you too can retreat, even if just by getting offline.  I hope if you need a small or big miracle in order to be able to do it, that it will happen. I totally recommend Chez Castillon to writers if they have deadlines - once you get there, all you are expected to do is write, and eat delicious food, and for a writer, you can't say better than that!

Chez Castillon


Joan Lennon said...

It sounds wonderful - have a great creative time!

Sheena Wilkinson said...

I have just looked up your forthcoming novel and it sounds absolutely delightful and so far up my street it is practically sitting in my living room!

Anne Booth said...

Oh thank you both so much!