I’m looking forward to the next Daku mentorship in September.
Last year’s class was a unique experience for me as a teacher. I’ve been mentoring and teaching writing for many years now but this was something quite new.
I was trying to work out the other day why it was so inspiring for all of us (including me) and why so much was achieved in such a short time.
Obviously the evocative beauty of the surroundings was something to do with it. We held our classes on the verandah of a house high on the hill overlooking the sea, misty blue mountains and tropical palms on the horizon- you half expected an old steamer to round the corner, a Graham Greene priest to alight and come walking up the hill in his soutane. Daku is not an “expensive luxury” place and is all the better for it. It is by the sea, with no shops or traffic, friendly, interesting locals live and work there, and the food is simple and delicious with lots of fresh fruit and fish. There is a large attractive dining room where we ate under a verandah by the pool in the warm nights. The bedrooms are comfortable and quiet, each with glass doors opening out into little balconies into the tropical garden.
They took us to places which really seized the imagination. For instance a village by the sea (some of these villages have been in existence for hundreds of years-) where a transcendent choir brought tears to my eyes, there was a tropical garden in the hills behind for their fruit and vegetables and the sea in front for their fish.
I also discovered a passion for snorkelling which I could do by just crossing the narrow road- floating spreadeagled in the warm blue water absolutely fascinated by all the caverns of coral and bright fish drifting below in another world.
All of these amazing experiences focussed us as well as allowing us to let go of those defenses which often strangle the urge to write. We became relaxed and trusting in one another’s company in a way that allowed for that intimacy and openness which is so conducive to the best kind of writing and learning. I think the key to the success of that week was the dynamic which happened between the six of us as a result of all this – the writers were able to talk honestly, give each other realistic appraisals of their work and also inspire one another with confidence. They all became excited about the books they were writing- some of them went away from the sessions and wrote into the night and we convened each morning with a feeling of anticipation.
It was also the first time I’d devised a timetable like that. People sent a few pages of their work to me a month before and I was able to give them feedback. I then sent it to the other members of the group so everyone became familiar with one another’s work. Each writer had their own day for their work to be workshopped, so as well as information and introductions by me on the basics of writing, people were also able to give and receive insights on their work and others- a real learning curve.
And as well as the trust that formed between us it certainly helped that there was a lot of laughter and conviviality. As we sat on the verandah eating fresh pineapples for morning tea, we all felt the joy of the moment and that we could write anything.
Rosie’s workshop Manuscript Mentoring runs from September 24 – October 1. Details of Rosie’s Course can be found here – Creative Writing Retreat »