Tuesday 13 February 2024

Retreating Again by Sheena Wilkinson

I’m off on my travels – not far, but hopefully deep into my novel-in-progress, which at the moment is a very rough first draft. Thanks to the generosity of Children’s Books Ireland and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, I’m the lucky recipient of a bursary to spend a week at the TGC in the company of several other Irish children’s writers -- you can read more here: 

The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig

Before Covid I used to go on retreat a couple of times a year. Supporting myself through a range of writing-related activities – the usual freelance portfolio – made the occasional escape indispensable. It was never cheap, but I always justified the expense by saying that a month’s work could be done in a week with nothing to think about except your story. And living alone I had nobody to miss or feel guilty about leaving.

But Covid, and the closing down of all my habitual sanctuaries, interrupted that routine, and I haven’t been on retreat since a wonderful week at the Arvon Hurst in Shropshire in April 2019, redrafting my 2020 novel, Hope against Hope. My last novel, Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau, and my forthcoming one, a 1920s girls’ school story,  were my first books where not one word was written or edited somewhere at a retreat.

Marrying a widower in 2021 I experienced for the very first time some of the challenges faced by many other women. I have more emotional and practical support than I’ve ever had, but also many more responsibilities, running a busy home and adjusting to being a stepmother as well as carrying on with all my usual work commitments. Life resembles one of my own gritty YA novels rather more closely than I anticipated, and juggling domesticity, creativity and earning a living is ever more challenging, even though I am lucky enough to have a very supportive husband.  

So I am very excited about – not exactly escaping! – but recapturing the intense focus I used to take for granted. And of course I have someone to miss now, not to speak of my two lovely dogs, so I know I’ll be looking forward to coming home too – but hopefully with a big fat complete second draft.

Thanks so much to the lovely people at Tyrone Guthrie Centre and Children’s Books Ireland for making this possible. I’ll report back next month. 



Lynne Benton said...

Have a wonderful time, Sheena! I'm sure you'll come back full of ideas for your next book, or books!

Anonymous said...

Sounds bliss!! Enjoy ☺️

Anonymous said...

Just full of anticipation!! X.

Anonymous said...

Have a wonderful time (from Anne)

Sue Purkiss said...

Good luck - I hope it goes/went well.