Sounding the retreat

Kangaroo at Eumarella Shores

Writing’s a solitary occupation, and it’s easy to lose sight of things when you’re the scribbling phantom locked away in the skull cave. It’s worth sticking your head out once in a while, not only to check in with the society you’re writing about, but to remind yourself that you’re not alone. All those poison pygmy darts — the doubts, the fears, the cliches that just won’t leave your prose alone — aren’t yours alone, and it’s refreshing to hear others going through the same trials.

Which is partly why I’ve just spent a month on the road, road-tripping with writerly pals from Adelaide to Melbourne in time for Worldcon, then flying north to my former home country for my Edge writers group annual retreat, and dipping by Sydney on the way home to schmooze with my stablemates at our agent’s annual seminar and banquet.

Hanging out with writers is fun. It bolsters confidence and stokes ambition, whether over evening meals or at convention panels.

Our retreat this year was at Eumarella Shores (pictures here), an amazing bushland retreat on the bank of a gorgeous lake, where our group was spread amongst some of the best cottages I’ve ever stayed in, convening for superbly catered lunch and dinner and group critique sessions (check out my piece on how to organise your own writing retreat). Sadly, both my beloved and I were suffering plague this year, so the wordage wasn’t great, but the camaraderie was priceless, especially with energetic and insightful mentors such as Rob Shearman and Jack Dann in attendance, and Sean Williams in the mix to boot.

It’s hard to come back to the cave after such shoulder rubbing, but here I am, still flu-addled and looking for words, clinging to the energy of my fellows — successes were marked at Sydney’s shindig, and they proved more than anything the value of perseverance and industry. Write, write, write! But don’t forget to take time to share the love!