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You Had to Be There

And I'm back from my week away at Arvon.

Looking back, the whole thing's akin to one of those obscure art house indy films. At the beginning you're thinking "ooooh, I just don't get it" and you feel a little underwhelmed and think maybe it's not going to live up to the hype and, gawd, this is going to go on way too long, isn't it?

Then somehow something clicks and the whole thing whizzes by and it's funny and touching and creative and profound and there's beauty in the banality of doing everything and nothing at the same time and you leave going, "Ohmygod. That. Was. Amazing."

And you want to watch it again.

Then you get all evangelical about the film and you try to explain it to your friends and they just look at you like you're an inarticulate feral crazy man so you just say, "go see it for yourself."

So what made this such a good film? Without a doubt, in this case it was the cast. Everyone was just perfect. They all came with individual objectives, ranging from "I've never written creatively and want to see if I can" to "I've got half a novel done and want to discuss it with published authors" ... which in itself is all well and good but can happen in just about any workshop.

The beauty, for me, was that none of them came off as "writers", if that makes any sense. I didn't spend the week with writers, I spent the week with a group of truly endearing people who can write. Coz like one of my favorite twitterers tweeted the other day, "although I love art/literature/music etc etc I can't STAND people TALKING about how/why they do it".

Oh sure, we had the occasional chat about craft and character and whatnot, but mostly we wrote and cooked and ate and took walks and drank wine (some of us more than others, but some of us are trained professionals) and laughed and simply enjoyed ourselves. And we shared stories ... real ones and made up ones and probably a few that were somewhere in between. The tutors were more than a little insightful (if not fully formed characters themselves), the staff was lovely, and the scenery couldn't be beat.

Loch Ness is beautiful. It was three miles away from where we stayed and we picked the perfect afternoon for a leisurely three-hour (and seven minutes) stroll.

I'm a wee disappointed I didn't see the monster, and I'm not certain why geese are supposed to be so scary (they were very helpful in Babe, right?) and the disused caravan in the woods isn't, but all in, aye, it's a spectacular spot.

So I'm back with some edits to existing work, a new respect for bad haiku, pages and pages of raw material to flesh out, and a host of new characters to play with some of them being real live people including, but not limited to, the "2am Haiku Club."

As a bonus, I've got all these random snippets of a new favorite film flashing on my brain's personal little YouTube viewer. And even though I'm a little sad the movie's played out, each of those clips makes me smile.