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Retreat Testimonials

Testimonials of previous Writing Events and Retreats at Glencanisp Lodge

We have been organising and running writing retreats and courses at Glencanisp Lodge since 2006. Over that period we have had the privilege to welcome writers in all genres and with a diverse and always reward breadth of experience, skills and interest. The sections below reflect individual views of the quality of the Glencanisp experience. The work of many of these authors, created or inspired whilst working at Glencanisp Lodge can be viewed in our gallery.

Rodge Glass - Author of 'Hope for Newborns', 'No Fireworks' and 'Alasdair Gray: A Secretary's Biography'

"I had a wonderful time at Glencanisp, and got a lot of writing done at a really important stage for my novel 'Hope for Newborns'. During the day I wrote in a quiet space looking out onto the grounds, took walks around on little breaks from writing, and found a relaxed, supportive atmosphere in the evenings. I knew a few folks there already, others were new to me, but everyone was friendly and welcoming. We sat around a fire and did readings to each other of what we were working on at nights. I particularly remember getting advice from others on my first chapter (which needed a lot of work back then!), and also hearing Jason Donald's work for the first time. This was in early stages but struck me as incredibly self-assured, and a fine, confident literary voice."

Tracey Matthias - Author of 'Assalay 01: Das geheimnisvole Amulett'

"Thinking back on it now, I remember it as a unique week: there was a creative energy there which enabled me to work with an intensity and confidence which I can only rarely grasp in fleeting moments here. The unstructured, free daytimes were fantastic: that sense of empty hours in which to let the words build and flow - and a huge and extraordinarily beautiful landscape in which to wander for inspiration when they wouldn't. And set alongside this, that real comradeship of writers & space to share work in the evenings - I've always held work very close to my chest and have always found the prospect of sharing it very frightening: it's a estament to the atmosphere that you created that I felt able to share writing that was still in a very early and ragged form."

Stephanie Green - Poet

"I spent a week on retreat at Glencanisp Lodge with other writers, including Rodge Glass, Jason Donald in January (2005?) and found the Lodge and surrounding wilderness inspiring, going on long walks and writing notes on poems as I went. It was great to sit around the log fire and share writing or just chat about writing to the other writers in the evenings."

"The second visit I co-tutored with Mandy Haggith a group of adult students on a poetry writing course, Sense of Place in October, 2007 so we had the autumn colours and mysterious mists. They were enthralled by the beauty and variety of the different sites we took them to in the surrounding area, ranging from sea-lochs and beaches at Achiltibue to woodlands. We had a talk by the local Nature Warden on wild-life and a visit to a salmon-fishing museum in a former fishermen's hut. A Norman MacCaig study day run by Mandy reading his poems and visiting sites where he wrote them was particularly interesting. We also visited a wonderful bookshop on a hill inside a wood at Inverkirkcaig and enjoyed the hot chocolate in the cafe next door."

Nicola Pierce - Author of 'The Last Executioner', 'Memoirs of Thailand's Last Prison Executioner', 'The Angel of Bangkwang Prison' and 'Ms Bangkok, Memoirs'

"Desperate to see if I could write if I left behind all the distractions of spouse/family/friends/job I made my way to Glencanisp Lodge, in January 2008, for a very memorable week."

The Lodge has everything you could want. For the more serious writer there is complete silence, from morning to night, and miles to walk in beautiful isolation should you need help unlocking the words and - hopefully - sentences -from your frazzled brain."

" For the writer who doesn't need too much silence there is the companionship of fellow writers, just be prepared for drinking lots of wine and talking about books/writing deep into the night."

" The scenery is - a cliche, I know, but - quite simply breath-taking. I left a busy city life to be surrounded by woods and lakes. It was quite shocking at first and I probably experienced slight terror in the lack of distraction present. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being able to devote my day to writing. It was the only thing I needed to worry about. For the rest of the time I merely ate and drank whatever was put in front of me, with no responsibility for anything else. If I wanted a break from the lodge there was a short walk into the tiny town, for pints of Guinness in the local bar and plenty of friendly locals to chat to."

" There was just something about the place that suited me. Taking a week away from husband and life was something that gave me the jitters to be honest but, six books later, I realise it was exactly what I needed to kickstart the habit. I had to see if I could do it all day when I didn't have to, to see that my wanting to be a writer wasn't just some sort of poser fantasy that I've held onto for years and years. I unleashed 10,000 words that week, in between Guinness and banter. What I wrote wasn't even important it was the doing it that was the key. Once you get used to writing every day it becomes quite difficult to go without. And it is this that I owe to my week at Glencanisp Lodge."

Emily Joy - Author of 'Green Oranges on Lion Mountain' and 'The Accidental Optimist's Guide to Life'

"Great place, great views, great company, great food. Great writing?"

Marsali Taylor - Playwright and Author of 'The Shetland Plays', 'Women's Suffrage in Shetland', 'Death on a Longship' (forthcoming)

"My week at Glencanisp was the best retreat I've ever been on. There was a perfect balance of private time and socialising with other writers, and I found both the scenery outside and the atmosphere of the house inspiring. I'd particularly recommend it as a "thinking time" place - I spent the week plotting a new detective story, and when I got stuck I went for a walk and came back with new ideas. I went home with the plot and characters complete and clear in my head, and the book was a joy to write."

Ray Harris

'Glencanisp is an unique place and the writing retreat I attended was wonderful. A great mixture of good company, breathtaking scenery and mouth watering food and still plenty of time to write. I am really looking forward to my next trip.'

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