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Milford 2013 by Sue Oke
2013 participants left to right: Jim Anderson, Sue Thomason, Terry Jackman, Vaughan Stanger, Sue Oke, Jaine Fenn, Lix Williams, Bob Neilson, Jacey Bedford, Matt Colborn, Heather Lindsley, Mark Bilsborough, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, Cherith Baldry + Tiffani Angus (not pictured).
L-R Jacey Bedford, Terry Jackman, Bob Neilson, Jaine Fenn (front), Sue Oke (back), Cherith Baldry, Mark Bilsborough, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, Liz Willimams (front), Vaughan Stanger, Tiffani Angus, Matt Colborn (back), Jim Anderson (front), Heather Lindsley. (I think Sue Thomason must have been hiding.)
Milford Report 2013 by Sue Oke
What a week. I feel crammed with experiences, memories, and food! Time to unpack—in more ways than one—and fully appreciate the impact of my Milford adventure. This is supposed to be a report, so I shall at least try to be logical.
The venue: Trigonos, sited amongst the impressive beauty of Snowdonia, is perfect for a bunch of writers to work both creatively and critically, while offering outlets for those with an inclination to walk, jog, climb and generally explore.
The writers: fifteen in total, including three newbies (of which I was one)—a diverse group of friendly and talented people whose professional approach to writing was matched by their sense of fun.
The process: in a day liberally spiced with excellent meals, and breaks for home made biscuits and cake, there was space for several hours of writing (or catching up with critiques) in the morning, followed by a focussed critiquing workshop in the afternoon.
But what was it like, I hear you cry, to be part of such an adventure?
After a convivial breakfast, I spent the mornings working on a new chapter for my book, inspired by the general buzz of creativity about the place, and only occasionally distracted by the chickens foraging in the meadow just beyond my window. I didn’t always make it to the 11am drinks and biscuits gathering; it’s hard to stop when you’re caught in the flow. The more energetic amongst us went for walks around the lake, or runs to/from the desolation of ‘Mordor’. The truly adventurous scrambled their way up mountainous trails in both rain and shine.
The afternoon workshops were both challenging and incredibly useful. The critiques offered were professional, honest, no-punches-pulled assessments that also offered support and, quite often, generated ideas on how to solve problems or take stories forwards. I must admit that after working through five or six stories with the group, I escaped back to my room for a much needed nap before dinner!
Evenings were spent in the Library with a comforting log fire (thanks to Jaine and Jim!), drinks and, of course, chocolate. A satisfying end to the day in the company of other writers: lively conversation, laughter, games, and for some, the fine art of knitting and crocheting. I was introduced to the game of Bananagram, a great twist on traditional Scrabble, which I look forward to teaching to my (grown up) children.
After five days of solid work (Sunday to Thursday) we were all ready for the Friday outing. Gwydir Castle—one of the most haunted homes in the country—offered sculpted gardens, wonderful trees (huge cedars planted in 1625) and rather haughty peacocks. The house itself was full of original artefacts and an ancient presence that will find its way into my writing, one way or another.
It was hard to say goodbye on Saturday morning, both to the place and to everyone in the group. But on the other hand, I was so full of ideas that I couldn’t wait to get back home and start work on the rewrite of my opening chapters.
I’ve already booked my place for next year, and can’t wait for Milford 2014!
Ooh, look, a mountain!
Jim Anderson impresses Vaughan Stanger and Sue Oke with his geographical knowledge.
Sue Oke, Bob Neilson and Terry Jackman participating in the traditional afternoon mid-crit ritual
Web pages by: Jacey Bedford