Lockdown Learning

I recently attended a virtual retreat with Conor Kostick organized by the Irish Writer’s Centre. I think I can safely cliché, without fear of contradiction, that it was an overwhelming success.

Of course, the IWC are famous for their support of the writing community, both here and across the pond, so one expects great things from them. However, dealing with the adversity of holding a retreat remotely must have been a challenge. Video linking to the rescue. Even as little as five years ago, it would not have worked, but today teleconnection is a marvel of modern science (to continue with the clichés) and, I felt, had only a marginal impact.

The format was strong. Forty minutes of Conor imparting his limitless wisdom, followed by readings and feedback on the group’s WIPs. Two hours each day, for two weeks.

I don’t think it is necessary to laud Conor’s skills, which are evident in his multiple awards and literary successes, both in fiction and non-fiction. As a mentor, I found Conor to be generous with his knowledge, patient, and forgiving of the faux pas inevitable in a literary student. I learnt a great deal over the two weeks and feel improved by the experience.

Even at a social level, the retreat was a success. I met a bunch of extremely talented writers and have no doubt that, given time, some (if not all) will become tours de force in their chosen genres.

My takeaway (or perhaps giveaway), if you find yourself with the opportunity to attend a writer’s retreat with Conor Kostick, grab it. You will love the experience.

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