Well. I finally did it – and boy, was it worth it! I’ve been wanting to attend an Arvon course for so long now that I was half certain the actual experience would never live up to all my expectations, but I have to say that in fact, it exceeded them.
It all happened at Arvon’s centre at The Hurst, when 16 travel worn souls uncertainly entered the doors to seek guidance from two established experts in the field – and walked out a short week later with notebooks brimming with ideas, the beginnings of promising first novels and an address book full of brilliant and supportive friends who could always be counted on to provide advice and encouragement along the journey.
The course, titled ‘Starting to Write’, was designed for those of us who are looking for some sort of validation that yes, we should indeed take the plunge and commit to the writerly life. Taught by the dazzling, and utterly organised, Kate Long and the witty and insightful Simon Thirsk, the objective was to help us find our voices, bring out our stories and help us embrace ourselves as honest to goodness ‘Writers’. A tall order by any measure, but one that was delivered in no uncertain terms.
Simon and Kate provided a perfect complement to each other, covering multiple genres and styles between them, guiding us through topics ranging from brainstorming characters, planning plot and managing your time to defining yourself as a writer, approaching the world of publishing and prioritising your work when back in the real world.
Out there, nestled in the Shropshire hills, cut off from cell phones and wi-fi, surrounded by literary goodness and the warmth of friends and mentors – it really felt that we could conquer the world and had stories worth telling. I think we have all come away with a renewed desire to commit to the labour of love that is writing and I look forward to reading the wonderful novels, ranging from psychological thrillers, to historical romances, to literary fiction, that have been conceived during this lovely week in a most memorable November by the talented writers I am proud to call my new friends.
Heartfelt thanks to the Arvon staff, Ilona, Deborah, Kerry and Dan; our wonderful tutors, Simon and Kate, and the amazing writers – without whom the experience would have been incomplete. If you have the slightest inclination to explore your writing, I would urge you to try an Arvon week on for size – you will certainly not regret it.