by Kristen Frederickson
In the autumn of 2008, I joined about 15 other aspiring writers at Totleigh Barton, with tutors Orlando Murrin and Tamasin Day-Lewis. I wanted to write a book about food, and thought that an Arvon week would hone my wits.
The week’s tutoring was brilliantly incisive, critical but supportive. A number of us have continued to spend several days together every year, “The Gathering of Nuts in May.” We shop for ingredients, cook together, eat while talking about cooking, and we read aloud to one another from our ongoing projects, mine my cookbook: my recipes combined with my teenage daughter’s beautiful photographs. A very successful Kickstarter funding campaign ensued, and the self-published project was up and running.
Fellow Arvon student, Sam Goldsmith, helped test and edit recipes, and this autumn, tutor Orlando and another fellow student, Rosie Jones, organized a writing seminar last October, and I went with my cookbook in its final stages of editing. That weekend helped me to finish the book with energy. In January, the book was published in China and now reposes on my local bookshop’s shelves and on Amazon. Arvon stepped in for me at the point when I needed inspiration the most, and the continued support of my colleagues from that weekend has been the icing on the cake. Apple and banana cake, that is, p. 231 in the book!