Sunday, 23 June 2013


I've just spent a lovely week at Lumb Bank on an Arvon Fiction Course tutored by Edward Docx and Alice Jolly.

It was a little bit magical and although I've only been home for 24 hours I'm already finding it hard to believe I was away for most of last week.

I didn't get very much writing done. We spent the mornings (10 - 1 o'clock) being taught by Ed and Alice. These sessions were interesting and informative with Ed concentrating on structure and planning and Alice discussing editing and dialogue.

I was on cooking and dish-washing duty for the first 24 hours; this was quite time consuming, it took our group about 3 hours to cook a meal for 18 people (people are split into groups and each group does kitchen duty for one day of the week).

Lunches were prepared by the Arvon staff. We ate at this enormous table which gave everyone the opportunity to get to know each other.

The afternoons were our own (unless it was our day to cook) and the weather was mostly good so I was able to sit outside with my laptop and do some editing.

We each had one tutorial with Alice and another with Ed. We were allowed to submit three pages of prose and a synopsis. The tutorials lasted for half an hour, which isn't much so I thought beforehand about what I wanted to discuss/ask.  Alice looked at the opening of my novel and Ed looked at a comic scene between a young boy and a much older man. Both tutorials were helpful and I came away with new ideas.

On Tuesday evening Ed and Alice read and discussed their own work. Marina Lewycka came on Wednesday evening and read from her new novel 'Various Pets Alice and Dead.' Thursday was an evening off; some people went to the pub and others stayed to chat and work. We read our own work on Friday evening.

I've managed to make a very entertaining week sound staid and boring. There was a lot of laughter, very little sleep, some excellent teaching, delicious food, lovely people and, for the most part, beautiful weather. When it was time to start packing, I didn't want to come home.


  1. Angela Topping23 June 2013 at 18:48

    Great blog post. Thanks. Makes me all keen for my turn in July.

  2. Sounds like a great time. Arvon week's are the best. Really enjoyed my week last year and hoping to have another in 2014. Hope the novel is going well.

  3. It was really, really good. I've made it sound boring, but when it came to writing about the funny stuff I decided that it was either 'you had to be there' stuff that wouldn't be funny second time round or it belonged in a 'what happened at Lumb Bank stays at Lumb Bank' category :)

    I hope you have a great time Angela.

    Do say when you have booked for next year, Dan - it would be lovely to meet in real life!