I have the utmost respect for anyone who has written and published a novel, especially now that I have undertaken some study to do so.
In late 2015, a colleague mentioned that there was a writing retreat in Greece. It didn’t take long for me to make up my mind … before I knew it I had paid my deposit.
It sounded rather fascinating – I am at a stage in life where I am open to adventurous and challenging possibilities.
There have been times when my travels are combined with learning environments as was the case a few years ago when I attended a Memoir Writing Workshop in Paris, and have since written about it in an earlier column for She Brisbane.
What sparked my interest in this Greek writing retreat?
Apart from the temptation of visiting a Greek Island for two-and-a-half weeks, it was the subject matter that caught my eye – the Neuro-science of Creativity by Dr Sue Woolfe. It sounded like a fascinatingly different technique for writing and one which I could apply to my memoir writing.
But the trip offered much more than just writing skills – we explored the local islands, food, dance, culture and made friends.
Kythera, the Greek Island of love
And so I left for Greece, landed in Athens and soon flew to the island of love … it was a short and interesting flight from Athens to Kythera. On the day we flew in I could barely see the rocky mountains through the low lying cloud, let alone the airstrip. One young girl on the plane said to her mother “where is the airstrip?” Departing was a different story; we had a magnificent view of the local village, Agia Pelagia, with the tail end of the shadowed Peloponnese in the background.
Kythera is the seventh largest island of Greece situated on the Aegean Sea plate between Peloponnese and Crete. It is a small mysterious island steeped in history, myths, art, cuisine, and wonderful shopping.
There is something unique about Kythera; it is difficult to explain but I felt at home as soon as I landed at the airport.
We soon discovered our own contemporary goddess known as Kiriaki Orfanos, who introduced us to the many mythological gods and goddesses and the amazing religious icons in the many caves.
Spoilt for experiences
Aside from our writing exercises we were spoiled with experiences including:
- Greek lessons simple enough for us to remember and apply – “efharisto”;
- How to make authentic Greek coffee including our own little coffee pot to keep;
- The opportunity to participate in celebrating the Greek Orthodox Easter;
Greek dancing lessons with Stavros. There was much laughter amongst the townsfolk and our group;
- Additional excursions to the many historical sites and towns, ancient caves built into rocky cliff faces, and plenty of stories on mythological encounters;
- Shopping – I am certain the female members of our small group have boosted the Kytherian economy;
Special excursion to witness the frescoes in the Cave Church of Agia Sophia, including conquering the winding, narrow access track down to the cave; and,
- The restaurants were superb – we experienced fabulous food and we only drank Greek wine or Ouzo.
I could keep writing on and on about our retreat and our experiences. They were unique and I have fallen in love with Kythera.
About Sue, my teacher
Sue is an Australian author, teacher, scriptwriter, editor and documentary film-maker. One of her books focuses on the subject of our writing retreat, “The Mystery of the Cleaning Lady: A Writer Looks at Creativity and Neuroscience”. For future writing retreats using Sue’s methodology check out the details – here.
What I learned
Sue teaches techniques that show you how to write freely; write without self-consciousness; write anything that comes to mind; persevere and trust the process; and, the value of one-on-one mentoring.
I don’t believe there is any turning back once you have adopted her processes. Albeit more practice is required for future writing; I may not read my own story to anyone outside of my workshop colleagues and my trusting children, howeverI have completed a story.I will also apply Sue’s method to my memoir writing.
It you are interested in neuro-science of creativity for writers, you can find more information on Sue’s website. “Yasos”.