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Eleni Hale: The time to focus and create.

In January 2020 I began an invited residency at KSP Writers' Centre.

As a mother of small children this loomed on the horizon; a wonderful opportunity to achieve much on my current manuscript and I’m so pleased to report this was the case.

Prior to arriving with fellow author Hayley Lawrence, we discussed our working strategy and how to get the most out of the experience. So, while it would have been more enjoyable to balance social activities with work we decided advancing our manuscripts had to be the main priority. This meant we only socialised once outside of the centre and spent almost all our time in our cabins, going for strolls or workshopping together.

The schedule we set for ourselves was as follows. We wrote all day. My goal focused on chapter by chapter edits from start to ‘finish’. I strove for around 8000 words a day. Each night, Hayley and I undertook intensive workshopping. We exchanged about 6000 words and gave each other thorough and constructive feedback. It was a truly amazing experience and could be compared to a ‘writing bootcamp’. We were both focused on achieving our goals and supporting each other.

On the first day at KSP, I opened my draft manuscript on the first page and started there. I saw this residency as an opportunity to get a firm handle on the story. During my stay I was able to work through everything I had previously written. I cut my manuscript from 107k words to 86k words in two weeks. I edited the whole manuscript and made some very big changes to the plot and end twist.

There were some tough days where I felt stuck in the plot but, unlike home where distraction takes you away, at the KSP residency I was able to work through these problems. Such a gift. There’s not much greater an offering than to allow a writer time to focus and create. I’m very grateful for this time.

The cabin was perfect. It allowed concentration and seclusion. It was set up beautifully with all necessary amenities. Someone put a lot of thought into it and you could tell.

In the second week of the residency I had the pleasure of running a course with under 18-year-olds, ‘So you want to be a writer’. Hayley and I ran this as a team and it was a terrific experience. Hopefully the participants agreed. We strove to be honest and open about our experience of becoming traditionally published authors while having them do exercises to get them writing and learning craft style and execution.

I heard about KSP through other writers. This was the first time I applied. The staff there were wonderful! So helpful and yet also allowed us to work without too much interruption.

I have and will be recommending the experience far and wide.


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