FWOR – Fantasy Writers On Retreat – from Alan

8 01 2011

NB: This is a cross post from my own blog, so apologies for the statings of the obvious.

I’ve just got back from a very productive few days at a writers retreat. It’s the first time I’ve done such a thing, and I like it. I was kindly invited by the existing FWOR (pronounced fwooooaaaarrrr!) group of Cat Sparks, Donna Hanson, Nicole Murphy, Russell Kirkpatrick, Matthew Farrer and Kylie Seluka. Other FWOR writers include Joanne Anderton, Ian McHugh and Trudi Canavan. Joanne will be joining the this retreat next week and Ian and Trudi can’t make it this time, but you can see the awesome company and imagine why I was so honoured to have been invited along. Sadly I could only manage a few days of the two weeks, given other commitments (damn you, real life!), but I made good use of the time I did have.

The retreat basically consists of hiring a big house in the middle of nowhere and sitting around writing all day, then playing games, watching movies and drinking all evening. Yes, it’s a kind of heaven.

I needed to drastically rewrite the first three chapters of the novel I’m working on and then run a solid edit over the whole thing. I got the rewrite done and half the book edited in the time I was there. Others did great work while I was there too, especially Russell, who spent two days working diligently on a map that turned out to be a vagina. Outstanding effort.

In the evenings we drank, gamed and watched some sterling films, including Hot Fuzz and a BBC production called Cruise Of The Gods. If you’ve ever been to a con, you HAVE to see Cruise Of The Gods. It’s brilliant. Cat and Russell also had several more rounds in their ongoing Ping Pong War. Cat spent a lot of time before the retreat telling Russell that his arse was toast this time around. When I left, the score was 5-3 to Russell, so Cat’s got some work to do. Matthew introduced me to a game called Dominion, which I enjoyed immensely and will now have to buy.

The place we stayed was called Stone Hedge, about 10km outside Oberon and it’s a pretty cool house. It has a pool table, ping pong table, air hockey table and many deer. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t stay longer as I was getting such a lot of work done and having a top time. Maybe next time I’ll get to stay longer. If I get invited back, that is. Hopefully the massive chili con carne I cooked up the other night has bribed them all into letting me come again.

There’s an official FWOR blog here – https://fantasywritersonretreat.wordpress.com/, which I’m supposed to be posting on. However, I’ve had a bit of trouble accessing that. I’ll cross post this entry when that gets sorted out. In the meantime, here are a few pics from my time there:

The FWOR: (l to r) Russell, Kylie, Alan, Donna, Matthew, Nicole, Cat (and the raven)


Stone Hedge


The Workspace


Matthew’s space


Cat feeding the local deer


Russell murdering a roast lamb dinner


Me murdering Russell at pool (I got lucky)


Russell giving Cat the only arsetoast she’s going to get (according to him)

(The photos above were taken by myself and Cat Sparks)


Day Three

8 01 2011

I accidentally slept in. However, I had promised myself that I would go for a walk. When I got up only Russell was around, playing with the pool table. Nicole, Cat and Alan had gone into Oberon to buy the chilli con carne supplies. Kylie had not returned from Canberra and Matthew was still abed. I head up the hill, camera and iphone in hand. It’s about two kilometres up hill and I nearly gave up the ghost on the first part of the hill. I thought it was the altitude but I figured I was kidding myself. It was me panting up a storm. I got to the road, checked my email and posted to Twitter, then I head back down again. The trip back down only took 20 mins and was rather easy. There are some lovely bush and birds hereabouts and it is very tranquil.

After everyone got back we were all serious in our working. I was feeling a tad behind because I didn’t start until late. However, I did manage another 6000 words.

Kylie arrived back just after lunch adding fresh life to us all, particularly Russell. She brought my wool from Canberra so I was able to start my Angular Granny (granny triangles). Alan cooked up a storm, a mountain of chilli and rice. Kylie brought an apple crumble and we ate it with ice cream!

Oh I nearly forgot Nicole’s margaritas. They lived up to their former reputation. I was pretty much sozzled with one. We sat around and chatted and then I went to bed early, too stonkered to do much else.


Retreat Day two

8 01 2011

It started as a quiet morning, a gentle waking. Still tired I made myself get up and go for a walk, no matter how short, because I had promised myself I would walk more. With the back and neck both a bit fragile after wall painting and general wear and tear I need to balance my computer time with movement. I think Nicole is in a similar situation. I walked down the hill to the river. I couldn’t walk along the river because there was lots of long grass and I don’t like consorting with snakes so I returned up the hill and did a turn around the yard. It is quite bit and walking the perimeter is quite a little walk. So is walking to the loo. I started writing about nine thirty of so once I set up and had breakfast.

Everyone appears to be quite diligent today. Kylie took Nicole’s car and drove to Canberra. She had some business there and Nicole’s husband had left his wallet and prescriptions in the car anyway and they had to be returned. My wool was also in Canberra so maybe it will turn up today. Mind you my hands still ache. Not sure what is causing it.

The writing is going well. I had done a short outline and I had hoped that once I started I would get some creativity going. Story is progressing well and to plan so far. I made six thousand words today and then I stopped because I don’t want to over do it. There was a storm. Saw some great lightning while lying down in our room. Russell is cooking roast lamb and he also beat Cat at ping pong. To celebrate he put some toast on his arse and paraded around as a tribute to Cat’s previous boasting that his arse was going to be toast.

I’m about to read a book. Mind you there is still a storm around as the lights flickered just then.


Retreat Day One

8 01 2011

Today was all about getting here. Matthew and I drove to Sydney to drop off James at my sisters and then to collect Kylie and Russell, or was it they collected us? The we started the nearly 3 hour drive from Sydney to Oberon, stopping in Leura and Katoomba on the way for lunch. We went to Katoomba because the weather was cool and both Matthew and Russell did not pack warm clothes. Kmart in Katoomba had nothing with long sleeves, though we did find some flannelette shirts. The one we found was too small for Matthew but he got it anyway to put on his arms. Kylie and I then thought it would be a good idea to do the grocery shopping and while we were doing that Matthew wandered up the main drag and found a shop that had some reasonably priced warm clothes in his size.

Kylie and I meanwhile tripped around Coles with a trolley, starting with tonic water to go with the gin. We went round the aisles, throwing in this and that, basics really and a leg of lamb for the next nights dinner. (we nominated Russell). So we roll up to the check out, look at each other and say ‘where are we going to put all this?’ The car was full of us and luggage. We thought we’d leave it to the men to figure out but Matthew was having none of that. He said ‘We will figure it out.’

So we left Katoomba and went in search of Oberon and Stone Hedge. It was a bit scary. Not the descent from Victoria Pass, but the entry into no Internet land. The drive from the main road is a good two kilometres maybe more. Hills loom over the house and bush sprinkles the surroundings. There are deer and geese and maybe a river near by. Before night fall, cloud cover came in low like fog.

The first night we ate an easy meal of pasta, salad and garlic bread. I had a headache so took a nana nap beforehand while the others had a drink. We finished the night with Cat’s DVD Cruise of the Gods with a darkish comedy about fandom and an actor from a cancelled SF series. I really enjoyed that. Writing wise I managed to look at my Phantom Lover edits and write up this post. This morning before we left I made some changes to a story and submitted it from a kiosk. Not sure it made it but will check when we get some internet access, maybe on a trip to Oberon.

The house itself is huge. Lucky us, we got the big room with the ensuite. I feel rather spoiled. There are plenty of beds and bathrooms and I probably don’t need to walk anywhere because to walk from the living area to the loos will probably give me all the exercise I need.

Oh and I forgot my wool. Apparently it is still in Canberra and didn’t get transferred the vehicles. No emergency crochet for me.