This week’s posts arrive at Panic Station ahead of schedule. That’s because this is a special weekend. It started earlier than normal (today) and it takes place away from home (on England’s southeast coast.)
I’m holed up here in a place called Lattern Cottage.
Right now I’m seated at a wooden table at the back of the house looking out this window. It’s not the clearest picture but that’s because it’s not the clearest view — the windows are glazed with the fine mist of wind-flung salt and sand. And you can’t see the beach, because it isn’t there right now. Just over the garden wall (that white thing with the circles) the tide is so high that a huge expanse of coast has been temporarily wiped out.
The waves are practically banging on the back door of the house and I can barely hear the click of my keyboard above all the racket that wind and water can make. It’s perfect.
I’m here with 5 others. Usually we meet on Wednesday evenings in the squashed back room of a pub near the City — where there’s a low-hanging bulb, a window which opens out onto the alley below and just enough space for the group of us to squeeze our chairs ’round the table.
We are a writers group. One of those magical, communal inventions like carpools or AA meetings — where people with a similar problem band together.
We share dinner (3-4 packets of crisps), drink red wine and listen to each other read our latest work aloud. And then we critique it. Some of us say a lot, some of us say less. Some of us are better at fixing dialogue or grammar and some of us go big picture. We do what groups do best — we bring different things to the table.
And because it works so well we decided that we should organize a writing retreat where we string together several evening meet-up’s. So that’s what we’re here to do at the shore this weekend.
That and to do whatever it is each of us do when we write (stare out the window, surf the net, flick through the paper, get up and make more coffee, go for a walk, send a few emails, do the dishes and here and there make some progress on our novels and screenplays and short stories and songs and podcasts and blogs) — except that for this weekend each of us gets to do that in a house full of other people attempting exactly the same. With the rise and fall of the tide as our clock.