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Skyros Blog

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Reflecting on my Writing in Skyros while in Coronavirus Lockdown

Four years ago, my wife Michelle, who is the Customer Services manager of Skyros Holidays, said to me:

‘I’m off to Skyros in June — why don’t you join me?’
‘Whoa! stop right there,’ I said. ‘I’m a scientist. I don’t do the touchy-feely arts — it just isn’t me.’
‘Just give it a go,’ she said. ‘What have you got to lose? You might actually like it!’

I remembered the words of the Sunscreen song:
‘Do one thing every day that scares you.’
And said yes.

In lockdown it’s a good time to reflect. To wave two fingers at the virus and try and turn a negative into a positive. I took two writing courses on Skyros: writing a novel, by Claire McGowan; and your writer’s voice, by Crysse Morrison. Both were highly inspirational. I may not have learned all the skills I needed, as I was too much of a rookie, but they helped me take my first tentative steps in a supportive environment. To not be scared of trying and failing. The facilitators were patient, charming and lovely. By the end of the courses, they seeded the idea I could actually do it and gave me the passion to see it through.

Four years have gone by now. It seems like only yesterday I was writing at those tables with the sunlight sparkling off the glorious Aegean Sea in the distance. So what has happened since? Within 18 months I had written 80,000 words of a Dystopian Sci Fi thriller. I was working full time doing a day job and fitting the writing in was tough going. But, sadly, it’s not about the word count. Ideas and prose must be fresh, exciting and creative. For me, that takes time. The courses can give you the information, some of the skills, and the awareness of what is needed and what should be avoided. However, it doesn’t give you a gripping and fully developed story. Without an enthralling plot you are lost and, for me, this takes time to crystallise. A long time.

And this is where the lockdown comes in. Writing a Dystopian thriller in a Dystopian lockdown is perfect. I picked up my flawed draft that had gone stale and become the millstone around my neck. I read it like a reader. I remembered the things Crysse and Claire had taught me and realised my mistakes. How I needed to get closer to the characters and immerse the reader in their pain so they cared. I began to rewrite the whole book. To get in the Dystopian zone, I only had to watch the news! I am now on Chapter 12 and the book actually grips me and I know what’s coming! Ultimately, if your book doesn’t excite you as a writer then how can you expect it to grip the reader?

I’ve been asking friends if they’d like to read the first few chapters — to gauge whether it’s the babbling of a madman, or worthy of an audience. Yesterday I asked a facilitator I’ve kept in contact with, whether he would read it. ‘Absolutely,’ he said. ‘Would be glad to.’ I think this epitomises the kindred spirit of the Skyros community.

So friends of Skyros, with this in mind, take away these thoughts. The lockdown and the pandemic is tough — it’s like writing a novel. But we can get through this together. So, please, can you to do one thing for me. Look forward. Think of the Skyros community; think of the friends you made, or will make in Skyros; think of the arts you love and the people you share them with; think of the bay and the sea; and think of the great time you will have there once all this is over. Now, please, for me, play the Sunscreen Song.






The Skyros 2021 summer programme is now live

For more information about Atsitsa Bay 2021 click here >>>

For more information about The Skyros Centre 2021 click here >>>


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