by Jennifer Watson, a writer on a Fiction Retreat at Moniack Mhor 9-14 July 2014, tutored by Morag Joss and Isla Dewar
Last week I was away on a tutored writing retreat, at Moniack Mhor, run by Arvon. I had never been on such a thing before and it was a wonderful experience. Not only did I have the opportunity to retreat from the responsibilities of running a home, I found myself retreating from all sorts of other things. The time away made me much more aware of all the time and energy-sapping activities I do while I am at home. I retreated from the internet (there was none available); ceased posting on Facebook, stopped tweeting, didn’t post any photographs here on my website (or on any other websites) nor did I update my blog. I could Google nothing, Like nothing, pin no images on Pinterest. I answered no emails, sent only a handful of text messages (to say I had arrived safely) and spoke to no-one on the phone.
I didn’t read a newspaper the whole time I was away, nor watch the television (there was none there to distract us), nor even listen to the radio. Funnily enough, it was the latter I started to miss first. But not the news, or the spoken word programmes which I listen to regularly at home; I suddenly craved hearing some music. We finally managed to persuade the CD player to work and so that was soon assuaged.
I didn’t go to the shops for five days; didn’t drive a car, cross a street or see any traffic lights. For 90% of the time, I didn’t have to cook, or clear up, or wash up. Or do any washing or hanging out of clothes, or ironing (not that I do that much of the latter, if the truth be told).
Instead, I wrote, I read, I listened. I talked and walked; I looked, watched, noticed, listened some more and thought. I laughed a lot. I thought a great deal, in a space inside my head which I had almost forgotten existed. And it all felt in balance. Somehow I had retreated from all the mindless things and found all the mindful ones; having the opportunity to do so was a golden one and I believe that I made the most of it. Now the trick is to continue to carve out that balanced time within the days and months ahead.