I left home after lunch on 10th October, with some excitement and a little nervousness about how I would cope being away from my family for a whole fortnight. I returned on 24th October having completed a huge amount of work and having made some new friends.
I have learned I can be self-motivated; that I can achieve a lot when not distracted by Facebook, Twitter, day to day life and chores and all the numerous calls on my time which occur randomly. I finished my John Clare book, I put together an anthology of poems based on Austen, Shakespeare and the Brontes, I typed up poems from my notebook, I started writing a book on Faerie Tales ( done about 7 thousand words so far) and added a little more to my children’s novel, which I am writing to prove to myself I can do it.
I’d like to think I could be so disciplined every day, but the reality is that the library is a bubble of peace and bookishness. Meals punctuate the day, and pots of tea are available for tea breaks. My routine was to wake around 8 am, skip breakfast ( I am never hungry first thing), work in my room on the laptop for a while, and pack a bag to go to the library for about 10am. I would then work all day, sometimes in the silent and beautiful library, sometmes in the noisier annex where there was a computer I could use, and activity all around me. Sometimes after lunch I would take my pot of tea into the Gladstone room and work there at the lovely old table, where newpapers appeared daily. I’d then go back to my room for a rest before dinner, then pack a different bag with my knitting and a notebook and go and seek company or relaxation. I did go out for a few walks and had two poetry-related trips to Chester, but other than that I rarely left the comfort of the place, wanting to make the most of my residency.
I loved doing my reading on the first evening, before dinner, with the coal fire glowing in the background. My day workshop was invigorating and I was delighted with the standard of work produced. The Lightfoot Letters talk was a treat for me, and those who attended seemed to enjoy it. I don’t usually have the chance to read from the letters themselves and I newly marvelled at how funny, touching and detailed they are.
Now I am back in my own little library, with my own coal fire, with some new projects started and some old ones finished. I do encourage writers to spend time at the library, which is free to use if you sign up as a reader, or go and stay there if you want to wallow in its clubby atmosphere. Consider applying to be writer in residence. The scheme is expanding and there will be nine writers-in-residence, who write a range of different genres, next year.
I certainly feel enriched by the experience!