We have been very fortunate over the last five years to have enjoyed the company of wonderful participants, positive minded people, fine writers and terrific fun– whether that be enjoying walks together around Gola Island or Glenveagh National Park or learning Irish dance steps at a céilí. Curious to know how they have been doing since they were with us, we asked participants to share some post-retreat stories.
Participants to the Ireland Writing Retreat enjoy food tasting and story telling in a hundred-years-old thatched cottage.
Irish-born Mary Fraser, otherwise known as Maire Rua (Red-haired Mary), now living in England, has continued her love of writing. And of Donegal where we had the pleasure of meeting her. Mary is now an official Ambassador for ‘Ireland Writing Retreat.’
One year on from ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’
“So, one writing year later and where am I at? Well the daily journal practice continues and makes for interesting reading and reflection. I recommend journal writing, very therapeutic, especially in our current climate. I have re-activated my creative writing blog. I’ve hosted a Writers Workshop. I’ve written several short stories and re-worked pieces to share at my Writers Group. I’ve published a poem that started writing life as an exercise in performance poetry! I’ve been honoured and humbled to receive an award for New Writer of the Year. This week, I’ve been invited to ‘wordsmith’ for several community events.”
She added, “And the long-forgotten manuscript in the bottom drawer, I hear you ask? Okay, I confess, it’s still there. Maybe time to dust off the pages and review or rewrite? Admittedly, here are times in a writer’s life when the Monster of Procrastination looms large. However, I’m working hard on keeping him at bay by writing regularly. Heaven forbid that we are ‘locked down’ together for the foreseeable future."
Mary Fraser (left) with fellow writers visiting Glenveagh Castle during 'Ireland Writing Retreat.'
Here are Mary’s reflections on her Donegal experiences.
“Each of us may have our own magical place. For me that magical place is Co Donegal, Ireland, also known as ‘The Forgotten County.’ Since my first trip, as a five-year old with my maternal grandmother, from Crolly, Donegal, I have never forgotten this special county of Ireland. It was with much excitement and a touch of trepidation that I arrived at Teac Jack, Gweedore to join ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ last summer. How might my writing style and experience blend with the other writers? Established authors? Writers of experience? Playwrights of prose?
On reflection, I need not have worried. I learned so much from my fellow writers and I acquired wonderful new writing friends from Australia and America.”
Renee Ozburn, USA
A retired judge, Renée is a delight to be with and an avid writer, a lovely lady whom we got to know during our inaugural writing retreat in Paris last year. Renée explains what she has been doing, including winning a prestigious literary prize.
“Shortly after attending ‘Ireland Writing Retreat,’ I received notice that my essay ‘A Redbone’s Reality’ won the Los Angeles Review’s 2019 Creative Nonfiction Literary Award."
And that’s not all. She added, “I’m currently querying agents regarding my debut novel, and I am writing essays and short fiction pieces for submission to contests and publications. Monthly, using Zoom, I also do workshop writing and keep in touch with fellow retreat classmates.”
Su Bristow, UK
Su, writer and medical herbalist, is a gentle, patient multi-talented person who attended one of our retreats in Donegal. She is happy, as well she should be, after completing her first novel. Su tells us more.
"Since I came to Donegal….
In 2019, my novel ‘Sealskin’ was shortlisted for the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, for a debut published over 60. I also spoke at the Exeter Literary Festival last November on Fantasy and Imagination. And I’m working on my second novel; it’s getting there…"
As for writing awards, Su is all in favour.
“Competitions and awards, including the Wild Atlantic Writing Award, can be a fast track to publication. They make you hone your work, and learn the ropes as you go. Always worth a go!”