Cathie Devitt has just returned from an amazing week at Arvon’s Moniack Mhor Writing Centre in the Scottish Highlands.
The week was “work in progress”. One of the tutors didn’t manage to break through the Canadian immigration system in time so the lovely Cynthia Rogerson took his place. Cynthia works with Arvon and is an established writer herself. Joining Cynthia was Karen Campbell who won the Best New Scottish Writer award in 2009 with her debut novel. The tutors were inspiring and motivating and really fitted in well with the group.
Guest speaker Peter Urpeth, Literary Development Officer for Highlands Arts Council, gave an informative talk on the Wednesday night.
The accommodation was typical Arvon, with coal fires, rustic furnishings and tons of food. The guests split into groups of four to become chefs for a night. Cathie’s night was Moroccan themed and she felt obliged to taste her way through several courses during the cooking process. Hence, she now qualifies as a belly dancer (or does she just have a dancing belly?).
Apart from the international cuisine each night, the guests themselves were from far and near and shared a variety of origins, culture and beliefs which made the week even more interesting. Australian, American, Polish, Indian, and Russian writers mingled with the English and Scots to establish a group that has decided to keep in touch by email. One member has already set up an idea to progress a chain of writing spurred on by various objects that we will anonymously post out to each other The stories and poems resulting from this will be compiled into an anthology later this year.
The scenery surrounding the centre is, as you would expect, nature at its best. Peppered with a few unexpected areas like the Moniack Winery, and a strange pagan ritual ground high on the hills.
If you ever need space to write and blow away those cobwebs, visit Moniack Mhor. Cathie Devitt