Today I'm flying down to Christchurch, which in itself makes it an exciting occasion, but the reason for the trip is that I'm spending the next four days with the other members of my writing group. We've been planning our own writing retreat/getaway for some time and it's finally arrived.
As a group we met about five years ago when we joined a writing class run by John Cranna of The Creative Hub. John founded the AUT University Centre for Modern Writing and designed the Masters Level writing course. I'd been considering applying for this course when in 2010 I discovered John had founded The Creative Hub and one of his initial courses was an advanced writing course. I applied to join and after submitting some of my writing, and then an interview with John I was on the course.
We met at the Michael King Writers Centre in Devonport each week for a year. It's a great place to meet with fabulous views over the Hauraki Gulf. John ran the meetings, but we also had some great workshops on specialist subjects by New Zealand writers and publishers.
Some of the notable ones for me was one on dialogue by Roger Hall and an absolute standout by Judith White.
Judith's topic was
writing with emotion without it turning into sentimentality or
melodrama, and as usual there was a writing exercise to do with the topic. There are a huge range of emotions we could have
chosen, but we all wrote about sadness on some level. At the end of each workshop we would share our writing and this one was no
exception. It says much about the belief and trust we had in each other
that we all shared what we had written even though it was very emotional. I
don't think I've ever seen John so worried as he was when he returned towards the end of the workshop and saw that most of us had been crying.
The thing that made the course so special for me were the other eight participants. We write in different styles and genres, but as individuals and a critique group they are incredibly supportive and always give insightful and constructive feedback. Almost five years after that course, we're still together as a writing group and looking forward to spending time together.