Thursday: with such a packed programme this week, I thought that maybe I was being overambitious in also committing to a daily blog diary (bliary? Could that be a thing?), and I would be kicking myself for adding extra homework to the mix. In fact, it has helped me process everything coming at me. Every evening I’ve returned to my room and just typed whatever sprang to mind, and it helped me clarify points on revisiting them hours later. I have pages and pages of notes, but then I have pages and pages of notes from other workshops and I never, ever glance back over them.
The quality of information at the UL winter school has genuinely been astounding. This has not been the usual harvesting of odd nuggets at a lit fest. It’s been nuggets piled up on a conveyor belt that’s moving much faster than you can possibly process it. This week, I have been Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory:
There was one final session this morning on moving forward and sustaining work practises post-retreat. Sarah spoke about what she described as ‘writing meals and writing snacks’. Sometimes those pockets of available time vary, and it’s not a bad thing. Also, it’s good to aim for one project out in the world, one on your desk, and one in your head.
Kit talked about not getting disheartened at inevitable rejections, but to see it as a numbers game. One year she won three competitions and was shortlisted for two others. On the surface, a very successful writing year – but she had sent out 80 submissions that year.
Goodbye (storm) Diana, goodbye Clare
I can’t express how thankful I am to have been accepted on to this school, which has been a privilege from start to finish. I feel as if doors have been opened for me, to new opportunities, to fresh ways of looking at things, to friendships which I hope and believe will be long-lasting. It’s a bit ironic because one of the quirks of the venue for me has been the fact that every door in the place did the opposite of what I expected it to do. I have spent five days pushing on Pull doors, and pulling at Push doors. No matter, none of them prevented me from reaching my destination. Read any symbolism into it that you will.
Ideally, I would like to hang my lanyard at home somewhere I’ll see it regularly, as a reminder of this week’s lessons. Or maybe I’ll just carry on wearing it, the way people continue to wear wristbands long after a particularly transcendent music festival. Why do they do that, anyway? To say I was there. It really happened.
So long, Hotel Doolin, and thanks for all the fish (dishes).
Thanks a million times to Sarah and the University of Limerick and all the beautiful souls who facilitated at and attended the winter school, and shared their stories with me, real and fictional.
I was there. It really happened.
Read the epilogue and amazing insights here