These first hours are always a little odd. We went round and around our incomplete group checking out each other’s names.
Gillian Philip and Erica Munro, our tutors, both local (ish) arrived to join us. The Director of Moniack Mhor gave us a talk on the building and the ethos of Arvon in so far as it affected us. Students are expected to cook (in teams of four) one evening meal during their stay. The menu and all ingredients are provided. Lunches and breakfasts are on a ‘help yourself’ arrangement, which means there is also a ‘tidy up after yourself’ deal. There are always people who do more than their share, as well as those who do less than their share. I suspect this can be a source of tension in some groups.
Classes were held in the morning and one-to-one sessions in the afternoon. Every evening something was planned, usually readings: our own work, an author’s work we admire, our tutors’ work etc. On the Wednesday night we had a visit from literary agent Geraldine Cooke.
My aim for the week was to dive into my manuscript and work out the new and improved structure; what needs to go where to tell the best story? I didn’t exactly achieve that but did accomplish something else. Back in March of this year I couldn’t see how to edit or what to cut but now I can. I’ve lost the fear for the mess that will ensue once I start moving bits of story around. And I got some faith back – this might sound mad – I believe that I will know in spite of the muddle what needs to be moved. I believe in my intuition again. I have it; I just need to listen.
There are so many wonderful things about Arvon courses: the dedicated time to write, to think about writing, to spend time with other writers and the experts – the tutors and the guests – who will answer all those questions that you have but haven’t known who to ask.
I’ve come away determined. I’m going to finish my novel and start subbing it to agents. I’ve got an idea for a radio play and I’m going to prepare and sub an idea for a non-fiction book I’ve been contemplating for several years.