Jan Cornall has now lead three retreats at Daku; she’s just come back from the latest and has sent me a brief account of the week:
I love the moments on our Fiji writer’s retreat when the breakthroughs start to happen. You would hope for it on a course called Breakthrough Writing but it’s not going to happen straight away, unless simply getting off the plane in Savusavu Bay and slowing down to the pace of the locals, relaxes you so much you just can’t help yourself. Sometimes it’s when we get out the coloured pens and make our first story maps that things start to fall into place, or when you slip into a voice you know is so right for your story you want to shout – hallelujah! It could be that you discover your favorite three chapters have to get the chop (and you are ready to let them go) or you’ve worked out how to cut 10,000 words down to 1,000. It might be that giving yourself a week to concentrate just on your writing; no cooking, shopping, worrying about all the small details of life, turns on your creative tap and you wonder how on earth you will ever stop it. It certainly has something to do with devoting time to working on your craft, receiving positive encouragement and daily feedback and becoming involved in the development each others stories; as if through the daily activity of sharing our stories and the processes of writing we draw the strength and courage to finally inhabit the uniqueness of our own writers’ voice. The same voice that at the beginning of the week we were so unsure about. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.
And here’s a few words from a couple of the writers:
BIFF WARD: Jan was everything that was promised and more. She really can work with people writing in any genre and at any stage of its development – even if they haven’t actually started! She had us all writing new stuff, re-working bits and, most importantly, reading to each other and giving useful feedback. It was a rich, rewarding, expanding, inspiring process. It seemed to me that everyone went away with clarity about where to go next with their project and the focus and energy required to keep going. Even with people from very different backgrounds and experiences, Jan had us all working together productively and well.
Daku allowed me to have a deeply satisfying routine to my days – something I never seem to establish at home. Wake up to tropical paradise through the louvres; read a littler; walk up to the yoga platform and spend an hour stretching a centring looking out to sea; shower in outdoor funky bathroom; delicious breakfast; then writing time on my verandah followed by class from 10 till 1. And that’s only thew morning! everyday! All in the Daku resort atmosphere of informal comfort and friendliness subtly underpinned by fabulous service.
CHRIS RICHARDS : I have become a bit of a writers class “junkie” and this one had the most eclectic and skilled group of people thus far. All very imaginative, all very productive. Jan basically set the parameters, set us up and let us go. The old iron fist in a velvet glove method which I do well under. Of all the workshop leaders and facilitators I have worked under over the years, she is my favourite.