I am coming to the end of my writer’s retreat at Annaghmakerrig – just one more day to soak up the creative atmosphere before I have to return to the real world.
When people told me what a fantastic place this was, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in Monaghan, I imagined most of what they said was hyperbole. Nowhere could be that wonderful, surely? Well, yes it can, with knobs on!
I am staying in one of the self-catering cottages, which is stylish, warm and comfortable, with every creature comfort taken care of. And I have taken at least one walk a day around the fabulous grounds, trying hard not to be distracted from the purpose of my being here – that is, to write. And I have written, boy, have I written – 26,545 words at the last count.
Having the opportunity to do nothing more than be a writer has been a wonderful experience for me, although I probably couldn’t keep up this pace for much longer. Writing about 7,000 words a day is frying my brains.
But at the moment, I’m thinking I’m writing something that’s going to get at least a Costa nomination. Of course, next week, I’ll look back through it all and cringe, thinking it’s rubbish. But at the moment, I’m flying!
Even the weather has been kind to me – sunshine and showers, snow and ice, but I’ve still managed to walk for miles hereabouts. And it is still winter, after all – I can only imagine what this place must be like in the spring with bluebells and rhododendrons.
I haven’t had the full Annaghmakerrig experience because the main house is still full of builders doing renovations. And I’ve barely seen another soul all week, so the networking opportunities I’d anticipated haven’t materialised.
But no matter. I arrived here as a writer – and I’m going to be leaving having written. What more could I ask?