Tag Archives: Glasgow University Writers

Moniack Mhor – The Final Chapter

3 Dec

When I set up this blog I said it was to be about writing and the life that conspired to get in the way of it, well unfortunately last week it was death that got in the way of it. My uncle passed away peacefully the day after I returned from Moniack so my final blog about our weekend away didn’t happen, so here it is now.

Evening 3

Started our reading session much earlier tonight which meant that we were all a bit more sober and had time for all those who hadn’t read the night before to perform. We began with a rather surreal experience of acting out a murder scene from one of our group’s novel. Set in the Highlands in the snow I have to admit I was a bit unsettled being in the Highlands in the snow and having a knife held to my throat (albeit a butter knife). Help P work out some logistics and she managed to persuade someone else to read for her ( a cunning trick). Then we had a very wide range of readings – some very poetic (building on images we had seen over the weekend), others thoughtful and then the funny ones. It’s one style of writing that I’ve never really tried and I think it has to be tackled soon. I’m very jealous of people who can do it. I can make people laugh when I’m telling tales out loud but can’t even begin to think how I would commit them to paper.

Day 4

Home time. Quick hour of work after a long breakfast that included lots of orange juice and coffee (which I would later regret – 4 hour journey home – very full bladder). Then it was time to pack up the laptop and the jumpers and head south again. It was lovely on the way home to actually see some scenery as we had driven up in such heavy rain that we didn’t even see the Cairngorms at the roadside. Coming home was great – I’d really missed my family – but sad as well as it was time for writing to be go from top/only priority to something that has to get fit around other things. Mind you I’m not sure how well I would cope if I shut myself away. I’m all for a balance and for getting it right.

Still to get photos on – I know I’m terrible.

Days 2/3 – Moniak Mhor

24 Nov

Evening 2

Two more sets of arrivals bringing our total to 13. One of the guys I’ve never met before and one of the girls I’ve met only once, but it’s good to mix things up a bit. They arrived just as we were eating another great meal – having a cook is fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend that anyone going away in a group investigates the possibility.

Five o’clock has been officially designated wine o’clock but I’m saving myself until dinner time. It’s not that I’m particularly abstemious, but I’ve found recently that if I start too early I just fall asleep by nine o’clock (which isn’t much fun). As with all large groups the conversations have had to splinter off rather than us all having one discussion, but it’s all good fun and good humoured.

We had a bit of a reading session which I kicked off last night, but one of the girls likes candles so I read just by the light of my laptop. If I’d been sober I might have chosen different pieces to read, but I got through two flash fiction pieces without incident, although the second one had an action which I think was invisible in the dark.

Got to bed at a reasonable-ish hour i.e. half twelve rather than half two, and up bright and breezy today.

Day 3

Had a good morning and knocked off the end of Chapter One of my new novel which I’m feeling reasonably happy with and did a bit of re-formatting of my next e-book 1000 Sleepless Nights (although it still requires quite a bit of editing). But since lunch I’ve been unable to settle. I’ve never really been one for sitting down for hours at a time – every job I’ve ever had has involved quite a bit of movement interspersed with some desk work, but whether I was a librarian, lecturer or supermarket assistant there was the opportunity for movement.

When I working at home there is always something domestic needing attention, so I can interrupt my writing with hanging up washing or emptying the dish-washer or the occasional (very) hoover of the carpet. But here I feel a bit more confined (even though there is the wild countryside around me – I’m much more of an interiors/civilisation person.

After lunch I went on the emergency run which we’re calling the milk run (and we did actually remember to buy milk), but was actually the wine and gin run to Drumnadrochet (???) a small village on the side of Loch Ness. I kept my eyes peeled for the monster, but this time didn’t see it (although I’ve got a good story about the last time I was here and something very mysterious emerged from the Loch). Just being in the car good – I don’t know if the fact that the house is busier today with our full complement of 13, or I’m feeling homesick, but I definitely needed to go to what I laughingly called civilisation. I did see some people, and was in 3 whole different shops – the search for tonic water was extensive, and I don’t even drink gin.

Anyway, now I’ve read a bit of The Guardian and spoken to my husband I think I’m going to try to complete a short story which I popped in my rather large bag of things-to-do this weekend.

Onwards and upwards before the wine gets opened again.

Moniak Mhor Writers’ Retreat Days 1 & 2

23 Nov

22/11/12 Left early yesterday to drive up to Moniak Mhor Writers’ Retreat in a terrible storm. Amber warnings abounded, and at one point we had to drive through a flood, but we made it here to the Highlands safe and sound by early afternoon.

This is my first time at a retreat of any sort while many of the rest of the group – Glasgow University Writers have been before. The place is everything I imagined it to be – monastic cell (although with nicer furniture and comfortable bed) and a view out to the wilds of Scotland.

I was a bit worried that the weekend would disappear quickly with lots of chatting over coffee, but the great thing about coming away with serious writers is that there is a lot of serious writing going on. So there is no way I’ll let myself squander this opportunity of time and space and no domestic concerns and not put in some major effort myself. It is after all what I’ve been dreaming of and what dear old Ms Wolfe recommended. It’s interesting though that some prefer to write with the other’s about and some, like myself have shut ourselves away.

By evening another three folk had arrived, and yes, there is drinking of wine and there is talking into the wee small hours, but that’s all part of the fun and part of being alive.


23/11/12 Today some of us managed a very quick walk after lunch and although we walked in the rain we made it back just as the rain was turning to something decidedly whiter, hopefully the five people travelling today get up here safe and sound. Still the house is really cosy and it’s great to have uninterrupted time to write – we’ve even got a cook, so we only have to worry about getting breakfast and lunch sorted ourselves.



So what of the writing. Well when we were talking about our writing last night I was still really unsure if I was going to tackle novel two. I’ve started and stopped it a couple of times before and there is so much that I want to do differently that I wondered if it wouldn’t just be easier to leave it forever and do something different.

Now though I feel totally different about it. I’ve had a good morning’s work on it, and I can begin to see that I can write it into the book I want it to be. There are many things that I thought I had written that have only existed in my head, and more that I’ve decided should go in now, to make it a more interesting story. So I’m feeling really good about things. It’s only half past two, and I’ve no school run to do, no clubs to take children to, just me and my laptop and dodgy internet connections and not forgetting a long-suffering husband at home.

Gave up about 5pm, totally burned out, but hopefully only for today. Photos tomorrow.