Rainforest writers and exotic dancers!

A wonderful weekend was had by all at the latest Relax and Write Retreat in Springbrook on the Gold Coast hinterland. From our retreat nestled in the rainforest, it was only a short walk to a spectacular lookout that made the rest of the busy world drop away.

A fascinating group of women, aged from 23 to 83, gathered together to write, do yoga, feast and have fun, sharing wisdom and kindness. I am always inspired and uplifted by the magic of women coming together. These retreats are only as special as the women who come along, and this one was very special indeed.

The highlight for me was our glorious Jacqui and her Exotic Dance performance. Jacqui performed in an international revue in the late 70s and in eh 80s performed with Joe Cocker onstage and even for the Harlem Globetrotters. She taught us all that sexy is sexy at any age and helped us all to reclaim our inner goddesses. We had so much fun dressing up in her costumes and fan dancing.

Here’s what some retreaters had to say about the weekend:

“I’ve been inspired to work on my writing but also to work on my health. Not only am I motivated, I made so many new friends.”

Peg Macleod

“Working with other experienced writers and learning new ways of doing things is always mind expanding. Then there was the yoga, the exotic dancing, the body work, the deep dive conversations and the sacred walk to the waterfall. It was an extraordinary way to learn and grow.” Vicki Bennett.

The retreats offer the perfect balance of relaxing and writing. Be warned though, once you’ve gone on one you’ll want to come back again and again. Bianca Millroy (repeat retreater )

With big thanks to all the beautiful women who made this retreat so special. We feasted on a delicious vegetarian gluten free menu prepared by repeat retreater and Cookie extraordinaire the wonderful Gay Liddington whose special little books of wisdom were a big hit. Body work treatments by the gifted healer Monique DeGoey had us all floating around. I made sure I got one this time too. My dream team of helpers worked hard so everyone had a nurturing time, even me!

So if you’d like to come along on retreat, just drop me a line! The next retreat is in Highfields near Toowoomba from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 October 2021, and has a life writing focus. Prices start at only $380 for early birds. Keeping these retreats affordable so women from all walks of life can come is important to me. If you have more dash than cash, just let me know. There’s always lots of things to do to help out.

With lots of love, Edwina xx

View from the lookout at dawn!

DROWNING IN DETAIL! Managing Research in your stories

Roy Lichtenstein – DROWNING GIRL

Whether you’re researching historical details for your fiction, or using your own journals for a memoir, there’s a danger that your story will be swallowed by all the information that you’ve uncovered. 

It’s exciting to discover or remember the world you’re writing about, but our job as writers is to figure out which of the multitudinous details we find are the perfect fit for our story.

Researching a place or a period of time can be fascinating, I know. I’ve fallen into that rabbit hole many a time. Hours, days, weeks of writing time can be lost as the lure of ever more information tempts us on until we have a mountain of facts that obscure the shape of our story. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to do this research (though maybe not quite to the extent I’ve done sometimes). We need to understand the world our characters live in. However, we really don’t need to include every little thing we’ve learnt about that world in the story. 

Instead, the knowledge we’ve gathered acts as an informed backdrop to the actions and choices of our characters. If we fall too much in love with all the quirky facts, they can drown out the voices of our characters and kill our story.

The discovery of long forgotten diaries, either your own or a relative’s, is indeed a treasure trove for a writer. But again, fascinating as it all is, not all of those day-to-day details are worthy of being included in a memoir or fiction piece based on them. We really don’t need to know what time you woke up or what you had for breakfast or what you did at work. Unless that workday or breakfast includes a major event that has emotional import, most of this daily grind can be omitted without doing a disservice to your ancestor, or your previous self.

My best advice with managing research, whether personal, historical or geographical, is to spend a week or two reading everything you can get your hands on, immersing yourself in the world you want to write about. But then –

Put that research aside. You can make notes about big moments or life/historical events that will help to shape your story, but apart from that rely only upon your memory once you start writing. Your brain will have absorbed the world and the feeling of the story world, but not all those facts that are irrelevant. Focus on your plot and characters and write your heart out, all the way to the end. 

If you hit a section where you just HAVE to check an historical detail, resist as much as you can. Highlight the sentence or make a note for yourself on the manuscript about the question but be strong and keep focused on the story. Otherwise, you run the risk of being sucked into the vortex of research and losing your momentum.

KEEP WRITING until you type “The End.” Then during your second draft you can check on all those bits you weren’t sure about and find interesting specific details that enhance your story perfectly without overwhelming the reader with an overload of unnecessary facts. 

Research is there to provide a backdrop, not take centre stage. Don’t let it hijack your story!

Hope that helps! Have you been sucked into a vortex of research? 

Let me know if you have any questions.

Lots of love

Edwina xxx