In February I had the chance to attend a week-long retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s creative writing centre near Inverness, and I’ve rarely been so nervous before anything. The Monday-to-Saturday retreat is a big part of the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awards that I won in January, but I wasn’t at all sure how I’d fare, or whether I could cope with so much untrammeled writing time.
I’d heard of other writers who froze, for instance, when they suddenly had ample mind space to write — and that was just one preoccupation that my anxious brain offered up as I boarded the train at Edinburgh, bound for the Highlands.
I shouldn’t have worried. If you are a writer who has considered going to Moniack Mhor in the past, can I just urge you to run, do not walk, to book some time there? The people, staff and venue of Moniack Mhor are a genuine inspiration. If you’re curious, you can read the full story here about my close encounter with cattle, writerly bonhomie and (most importantly of all) my own manuscript, which experienced some drastic cuts during the week.
You can find more information here on the Moniack Mhor retreats, both tutored and untutored, or go here if you’re curious about the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awards, supported by Creative Scotland.