I took this photo at the Danieli. Angelica and I treated ourselves to tea, cappuccino and biscuits
I really wanted to go to that Writer’s Retreat in Venice, the one I had so flippantly signed up and paid a deposit for at the beginning of the year.
Venice, oh Venice. I wanted to go there before it was completely taken over by massive cruise ships, or even worse, before it sank. Well, after watching a couple of documentaries on the place, I was convinced the time was NIGH!
Rather than merely visit as another tourist, I wanted to see Venice from the inside.
Janys Hyde, the English woman organising the retreat had lived in Venice for many years. I was also familiar with the name of the retreat speaker/teacher, Roz Morris, because I was working my way through her book Nail Your Novel, along with several other guides, in an attempt to snazzy up my first novel before looking for a publisher.
At the risk of overdoing the clichés, I was killing two birds with one stone, getting to see Venice and getting expert editing tips. Without further ado, I clicked the button and signed up.
I immediately heard from Janys, the organiser who, of course, was thrilled to have had an immediate response.
Roll forward to September. Everything fell into place perfectly. I booked my room, the least expensive I could find, through airbnb. At €50 per night, that was a pretty good deal. Thanks Gianna! Later I decided to add an extra night as I realised I wouldn’t otherwise get to see much of Venice. What a shame that would be.
The entire trip was surreal, and although I’d seen many pictures and films set in Venice, nothing can beat actually being there. It suddenly dawned on me, too, that I had spent a couple of days in Amsterdam before heading for Venice and polished off the whole trip with another couple of days in Amsterdam with my husband and our good friends. What’s with all the water, I thought to myself? Me, who tends to look for the deeper meaning to events and happenings in life. But then, as Janys said, when I lost the painting I’d bought in Venice, ‘it just means you lost the painting, dahling.’ So, being in two cities built on water just meant nothing!! Okay, what do I know…
Amsterdam is also built on stilts, but you don’t have the feeling or the threat of imminent drowning when you’re there. Come to think of it, I only had one such moment in Venice when I had to literally jump onto a packed boat and nothing to hold onto. That’s when I lost my painting.
I’ll skip to the Writer’s Retreat for now. It was held in a lovely venue on the island of Giudecca, pronounced Dew Dekka (according to one of the locals). Giudecca is one of many Venetian islands and a ten-minute Vaporetti (boat) trip from Venice.
Oh my Lord, upon arrival in Venice, I felt swamped by throngs of people. People, people everywhere. I live in a small village in Nordrhein-Westfalen and so I tend to forget what it’s like being amidst so many people until I visit London or Dublin once a year.
The stage was set. Our retreat location, which doubled as a gallery and multi-purpose venue for Giudecca, was bright and airy.
I took this photo in Giudecca, over the little bridge I crossed several times every day.
Janys busily rushed around getting everything ready the next day. There she was, setting up the props, laptop and projector and making sure we all had seating. It was time to meet the other course participants and, Roz, our mentor/teacher.
I had met the lovely Angelica the previous day as we had flown in from Amsterdam on the wings of an eagle. I had also met Janys upon arrival as she had kindly kept tabs on us and made sure we found our way to our accommodation on time.
Janys lives on the island of Giudecca and she did Trojan work carrying foods and all sorts of accoutrements like laptops, a pult, biscuits, lasagne, serviettes and fruit, not necessarily in that order, back and forth.
The coffee was brewing before we even got started with our istruztioni.
I won’t reveal too much about the actual tips and discussions we had, but it was useful and entertaining too.
If you want to know about Lady Roz’s editing system, I strongly advise you buy her book, Nail Your Novel.
Another course member, the kindest woman with the dulcet voice, Tammy, whizzed in on her speedboat from Milano. Lady Roz galopped in on her trusted steed, accompanied by her number one guard, Henry, a knight of the old order.
It was a wonderful writing retreat in a gorgeous location. The knight, Henry, told us about some of the battle fields upon which he had fought and won his honours. He gave us an idea about the fine print we needed to read and absorb should we ever make it to the fine halls of publishers. It’s a strategy. You must plan ahead, he said, Well, he didn’t really, but it all seemed rather tricky.
Another famed author, Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, stopped off for vittles in her gilded carriage and graciously shared nuggets of wisdom whilst encouraging us to persevere in our quest to write and publish our tomes.
We drank wine in goblets and sat under the vines in sunshine as we shared and partook of Janys’s al fresco lunch in the garden of the venue.
The good news is that Janys is busily planning next year’s retreat. She is also planning a photography and a watercolour class on the island of Giudecca. I wouldn’t hesitate to attend again, in fact I’m almost reluctant to spread the word because it was such a harmonious group and I’m sure space will be limited when the word gets out.
Sadly, I’m having problems uploading any more photos at the moment. Perhaps I can add some more later and show you the venue and a couple of panoramic scenes of Venice.