Now that I’m settled in, it’s been a busy month getting all my plans off the ground. My new venture, Retreat West, is in the final preparation stages and from October I’ll be running one-day writing retreats to encourage myself and other West Country writers to stop procrastinating and up the word count. I’ve sorted the venues – Mild Bunch in Bristol and The Generator in Exeter, both of which are co-working spaces from Monday to Friday and will now also be a hive of creative activity on one Sunday a month; once my new website goes live and I’ve got some bookings of course – that’s a minor detail though as one thing I’ve discovered on my creative writing journey is that there are loads of writers out there needing time away from all distractions to actually write.
Excitingly, through The Generator I’ve also got myself involved in a social enterprise called Cork Screw. This new programme is going to teach young entrepreneurs the skills they need to start their own businesses, and one of the founders, Neil Finnie, has asked me to take part in the mentoring. This means I will go along on each of the courses to share my experience of being my own boss and my knowledge of using communications and social media to spread the word and get people engaging with you.
As if all of these things weren’t enough to be getting on with, from the New Year I am also going to be volunteering with the Moorland Mousie Trust – which is a charity that works to conserve and protect the Exmoor ponies. I’m having my first meeting with them next month then once I get going will be helping them to organise events and raise awareness of their work to bring in the funds they need to help keep doing it. And I get to spend time with the ponies in their pony centre, which is the part I’m really excited about.
In the meantime, I’m reaching a milestone birthday this month and will be taking a few days off to enjoy the beautiful region I’m now lucky enough to live in. Not that I haven’t been already – the sun has shone fairly consistently in the past few weeks and I’ve skived off work early a couple of times, OK maybe more than that (the joys of self-employment), to visit the lovely places that are right on my doorstep, namely The Heddon Valley, Woody Bay and the glorious beaches at Woolacombe and Croyde. I’m now firmly convinced that rural is so much better than urban, and feeling like the term ‘gypsy’ may no longer apply.