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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

Retreats, repeats and looking back.


A month gone already and at times I think I have packed a million things into those four weeks, but I’m a writer so I lie. Not really, but my imagination does sometimes run away with itself. Once again, as I look through my diary, it’s mostly domestic chores, gardening and walking the dog on repeat. But I did manage to achieve some significant days that I will always remember with a mixture of warmth and, well…hmm!

I have managed to bring my fourth, Emma Carney Romance novel up to almost 40,000 words, but still have a long way to go. The working title is Dare to Dream but is more like a soap opera without all the drugs, sex and violence. By the way, I can’t remember the last time I watched a soap, but it was in black and white and most of the action seemed to take place in the snug at the local pub! The reason I say it is more like a Soap, is because I downloaded four, Jill Mansell books from KDP because I wanted to see how a successful, Sunday Times best selling author crafts her work. I read two of the books and half read the others. That was because I was beginning to see that she basically spins out a soap story with lots of colourful characters and at least two love triangles. Good writer as well.

The main event, in a way, for me was my six day break in Yorkshire at a Writers’ Retreat in Beal, North Yorkshire. There were six of us plus a ‘Writer in Residence’. The Retreat was an old pub but had been completely refurbished and opened up as a Private Function Centre for Retreats, birthdays, weddings etc. It was a lovely place too. Because of my age and longevity in the world of books (first published in 1978), it was no real surprise to me to find that I had more books published than the rest of them, including the Writer in Residence, put together. They were an engaging bunch, but writers in the purest sense of the word where they were not all desperate to get their work published on Amazon. I told them I was Antediluvian and had cut my teeth in the old fashioned school of writing — no internet, no Google, no free self-publishing. All research had to be done at the local library, face to face interviews or anywhere else you could find some worthwhile research. When I told them that I watched a podcast of an American author who writes and publishes five full length novels a month, they were all visibly shaken. But that’s the two extreme ends of the writing world.

I visited York while I was there. Walked through The Shambles, wandered round York Minster and also visited the Jork (sic) Viking Museum. It was hot, but worth the effort. And if I did have a bucket list, which I don’t, then York Minster would have been on it.

But back to the Retreat and I have to say that my five days was spoiled by my very poor hearing. Even with the most expensive hearing aids in the world, I have trouble engaging in conversation when I’m in a group. Consequently I was left dumb each time we were together, either at the dinner table or a group meeting in the lounge, so that I had very little to offer until I was asked to say something. But it is what it is and I can’t do anything about it. I’m okay with face to face talk, and there were times when I was able to chat with each of the group that way. It helped too. It made me realise that breaks like that are pointless for me, so I will have to be careful about what and how I choose in future. I’m going to the Turkey and Tinsel in November with Graham’s bunch but should be able to manage that (I did last year!).

And finally to my other significant event last month and that was the Mill Farm Fun Day. I set up my book stall at the far end under a Gazebo. I was on my own most of the day, although I did have Tuppence at my feet. I sold quite a few books; not sure how many, but it isn’t about making money; it’s more about being part of the community and getting to talk to people who I may never have encountered. My granddaughter turned up at half one in the afternoon with her two sons, Orin and Liri, and her partner, Max. They put Tuppence in the dog show for me, but we failed to win even the smallest rosette. By the end of the day I was completely knackered. And at my age that’s not a good idea. I probably won’t do one next year because of the amount of preparation etc., that’s involved, although if I’m here, I’ll make sure I come to the event and bring Tuppence all poshed up so she stands a chance of winning something in the dog show. It doesn’t faze her one bit when she loses! Pretty cool girl.

I’m still selling books each day, only a trickle, but you never know; it could become a flood. Now there’s a thought. Hope you all have a good month and enjoy good health. I still have mine and hope to continue so. Until next month then. Wish me luck!



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