How do we write about the self? How do we make sense of the glorious mess of life and tame it into a book? What about writing about real people? Do we always have to tell the truth? This stimulating, encouraging and friendly week will address all these questions and offer tools and techniques to help you start turning your life events into a narrative. Suitable for all levels, whether you are a complete beginner or already have a body of work.
|Tutor: Cathy Rentzenbrink – Writer
Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love, a Sunday Times bestseller which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize and the Portico Prize, and A Manual for Heartache. Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books was published by Picador in 2020.
Cathy presents The Bookseller podcast, writes a column for Prospect magazine and reviews books for The Times. She works as a teacher and mentor and her absolute favourite thing about her rich and varied writing life is helping others to tell their own stories.
Guest, Wednesday Evening: Alan Johnson – Writer
Alan Johnson was General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union before entering Parliament as Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle in 1997. He served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
His childhood memoir ‘This Boy’ was published by Bantam Press on 9th May 2013. It won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and the Orwell Prize, Britain’s top political writing award. His second volume of memoirs.
‘Please Mr Postman’, was published in September 2014 and won the National Book Club award for Best Biography.
The final book in his memoir trilogy, ‘The Long and Winding Road’, was published in September 2016 and won the Parliamentary Book Award for Best Memoir.
Alan retired as an MP before the 2017 general election after 20 years as an MP.
On 20th September 2018 his latest book, ‘In My Life – A Music Memoir’ was launched at Studio 2, Abbey Road where the Beatles made almost all of their records.
He and his wife Carolyn live in East Yorkshire.
|PRICES||Fee includes all day and evening tutored workshop sessions, readings, accommodation and full board (not including alcohol).
Single – En-suite room £845
Single – Shared bathroom £795
Shared Room (2 Beds) £745pp
Non-residential (inc. lunch and evening meal) £605
|TO BOOK||£150 deposit payable on booking by bank transfer, PayPal or cheque, to secure place. Balance due four weeks before the start of the course/tutored retreat/untutored retreat.
Please see Terms and Conditions.
|WHAT TO BRING||
Please arrive between 3:00pm and 5:00pm on Monday 18th October 2021
After breakfast, 10:00am on Saturday 23rd October 2020
|LOCATION||The Garsdale Retreat, Clough View, Garsdale Head, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5PW
Nearest railway station: Garsdale, on the Leeds – Carlisle line.
For directions, see Find Us section on the Contact page.
The Garsdale Retreat provides an inspiring place to develop as a writer. Our courses offer opportunities for new, emerging and experienced writers. The tutors, all professional writers, lead workshops and also give one-to-one tutorials to help the individual student. In the remote and beautiful setting of The Yorkshire Dales, The Garsdale Retreat gives a wonderful opportunity to escape from the daily stresses of life and to draw inspiration from fellow students, tutors and the landscape itself.
All courses start on Monday afternoon, arrival time 3.00 – 5.00pm. On this first day, tea and cake are at 4.30pm followed by an introductory/ice-breaking workshop 5.45 – 6.45pm. Dinner is at 7.00pm. All courses end after breakfast on Saturday (10.00am).
Although there will be slight variations, according to the type of course (see below), students can generally expect the following outline:
8.00 – 9.00am: Breakfast
9.30 – 11.00am: First workshop – Students explore particular aspects of the chosen genre and take part in writing exercises to further their understanding and expertise. All students have opportunities to share their work with the tutor and fellow writers in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment in which individual work is respected and confidence developed.
11.00 – 11.30am: Coffee break
11.30am – 1.00pm: Second workshop
After lunch, participants are free to do whatever they like, such as: relax, go for walks, enjoy The Dales, draw, paint, read or work on individual writing projects.
4.30pm: Tea and cake
5.30 – 6.30pm: Third workshop
All students have one individual tutorial of 30 minutes with the tutor in the course of the week which usually takes place at a mutually agreed time, usually in the afternoon.
Each evening, at about 8.30pm, there is an after-dinner event. The precise nature of this varies according to the type of course but participants can typically expect a tutor reading on Tuesday followed by a reading from a guest writer on the Wednesday evening. There is an informal activity on Thursday such as a word/literary game. On Friday, there is a reading of work produced during the week.
Poetry Course Anthology
An integral part of poetry courses is the production of an anthology of writing produced in the week. It is, of course, accepted that the writing is essentially work-in-progress. However, the aim of the anthology is to reflect a flavour of the work accomplished on the course and to provide participants with an attractive record of their time at Garsdale. The Retreat stores copies of anthologies in the library, providing pleasure and inspiration for future students.
These follow the same basic structure as above except there is only one workshop in the morning and participants will have a daily tutorial, four per week.
The only formal structure of the week is determined by meal-times (see above), allowing participants to concentrate totally on their own writing. After dinner, participants in conjunction with the course director sometimes organise evening read-rounds of their work /open mics/music /word games. However, participation in such events is entirely voluntary and people are free to continue with their writing in the evenings if they prefer.