Gladstone Library Retreat: Days One and Two

11846782_10153275113120817_8775297613763990423_nAt the weekend, as I prepared for the journey to north Wales and my stay at the divine Gladstone Library, I decided that I wouldn’t blog about the experience; it would be all about starting a new novel; time and space to think; to write. However, now that I’m here and as is obvious, I’ve decided that I must. It’s the first time I’ve ever done a residential and it would be crazy not to journal my experience.
Having spoken at an event for the annual literary festival, GladFest, I knew what to expect from my surroundings but, truth is, I’d forgotten quite how magnificent Gladstone is and what an incredible space it is to write in. I am indeed blessed.
I arrived late yesterday afternoon and was shown to my double (!) bedroom, complete with desk, washing area, wardrobe, tea and coffee-making facilities and freshly laundered white towels. There’s no slumming it here, let me tell you. Mine is the Lindisfarne room, named after the Holy Island off the northeast coast, I presume – here’s the view from my window. I could easily write in my room.
In the evening, I ate a delicious dinner at the library’s restaurant, Food for Thought, and chatted to a group of scholars and ministers of various non-conformist faiths who are on a course here – Greek in a Week. Phew. Apparently, the New Testament was written in Greek (who knew? I thought it was Hebrew but that’s the Old Testament) and in order to understand and interpret the Gospels it helps to have a basic understanding of the language. The rest of the evening was spent reading and gazing at the clouds. Very writerly. And guzzling red wine. Not so writerly, or maybe it is?
Day Two: Despite loving my room, after breakfast I headed for the library and found a desk on the upper gallery of the Theology area. I opened a new document and began work. Although I’m not quite as tortured over openings as Beryl Bainbridge allegedly was (taking up to six months to nail the first chapter), I don’t find them easy; *ahem* I find them bloody tricky, so I was pleased to have nailed 1,000 words by noon. I took a walk after lunch and by suppertime I’d almost hit the 2k mark.CLliB5zWEAAHB3z
Many of these words are bad. I know that, but before the good, the bad must come. Tomorrow I want to experiment with a different beginning altogether. I left the library troubled, knowing that the chapter I’d played with after the Prologue wasn’t right. Playing with voice, I’d written in the present tense and I’m not sure if I want to sustain that throughout, or whether the story might best be served bouncing between past and present. Given that I’m not even sure what the real story is yet, no wonder I’m uncertain. What I am certain of, is that it’s OK to play, to mess around, experiment. Write words, bin words. Start over.
If I were mid-project, I’d want this stay to be all about knocking out chapters, making serious headway with wordage. But I’m right at the start of this journey; I don’t even know my destination; I’m winding my way along a lane, taking in the scenery, possibly going nowhere, but possibly travelling towards somewhere beautiful and surprising.
And now, I read, and dream. The view from my window now.11811414_10153277415955817_125220476229898542_n

5 thoughts on “Gladstone Library Retreat: Days One and Two

  1. Sarah Thorogood says:

    Loving the blog Laura, feeling very inspired just reading it! Good luck, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the rest of your journey,

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