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Tell me a story; tell me no lies

I’ve recently returned from the Jaipur Literature Festival and it’s confirmed how nerdy I am. No, wait. Needy. That’s it. Needy of daily inspiration from writers and thinkers. And, daily laughter too.

Plenty of that at JLF along with great panel discussions with smart articulate authors and deft moderators. Fine festival direction with entertainment alongside the cleverly curated sessions… not just contriving to bring together authors who share a tenuous link to a theme or (here’s the cynical lit fest goer talking:) but build a story for we punters, scrambling for seats, hot chai in hand and ears (and hearts) at the ready.

One session that was an unexpected delight (not because of the writers, at all.. .but my general ignorance and, therefore, resistance to attending a session on economics. Still, there was  the charismatic French economist — Thomas Picketty in a lively (read: small stoush) with  the Finance Minister of India …and others. No less than the uber-impressive Atul Gawande …Biography sessions (Hannah Rothschild and Blake Morrison were excellent…… fiery and inspiring stuff.

I won’t go on as it might need my reproducing the whole program. And we know that’s a)tedious and b) not going to happen here.

Then… there were the smart and advertently (or, more thrilling, the inadvertently) funny speakers. Stephen Fry, the could-be-a-stand-up-comedian-if-he-weren’t-producing-lots-of-books-a-year Alexander McCall Smith…

What does this have to do with lying? A lovely Urdu word I just learned is goya: the transporting suspension of disbelief that an occur in good storytelling.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 10.47.43 amSeems that contradiction about stories being ‘made up’ (lies) and so deeply embedded in truths about human condition or dreams at the same time is, really, what keeps me reading.. needy for tales and ways to be and think and, ultimately, know how to be in the world.

So, see you at JLF next year. I am raising my cup of chai in a toast to you.


It’s time … Write all about it …

“I am so glad I made the decision to come. It was brilliantly organised. … so much more than I would have expected to get from one week’s workshop. We worked hard, and I personally think I achieved much with the help of this enthusiastic and encouraging team.” Christine Eyres, Australia

“Couldn’t have been better! We covered so much and the time was split so appropriately… I particularly gained from the work done on showing and not telling…oh, and character! A dream come to reality. I love you both! ” Helen Kinny-Lewis, Bali

Editing in Paradise has designed creative writing and editing courses for all writers: the seasoned and the not-so-seasoned.

Life Writing & Memoir and Write, Edit — Breakthrough workshops are held in the cradle of stimulating, enchanting Bali. The island still offers the  majestic environment  it always has. And now, it offers an even more diverse and explosive array of the traditional, cultural rituals and modern technology at its best. It’s a kaleidoscope for senses and  emotions. Join us and there’s no way you can not be creative in Bali!

Our passion for teaching the craft of writing and editing simultaneously makes for a lot of creative fun and also a lot of dedicated writing time. All participants will work  on current projects as well as produce real time new writing or ideas. We have the alchemy to add poetry to your prose, find the poetry in the ordinary and slap down the ‘unnecessary’ poetry (kill your darlings).

You’ll learn to lose the passages with melodrama; and keep those with true, fresh, emotion. You’ll find when to place dialogue instead of an over flowery, lofty, inelegant and over-wordy piece of prose. [NOTE to self: so many adjectives, really?]  In short, being immersed in the writing and editing processes with published industry mentors is a surefire means for masses of creative writing or creative editing.

From the moment the first writers arrive in the beautiful setting of Villa Sekala, a small hub of support is formed. We begin to hear their stories and find out a bit of why they’re here and what they’d like to work on. As more writers arrive and time unfurls a hub becomes a small family. Each time, the family constellation forms astoundingly quickly. We establish safety, friendliness and trust as our main pillars — many participants are a little nervous about what they’ll be doing; or who they’ll meet (inside themselves as well as other people!).

You’ll have unfettered time as well as the more guided sessions, with the full support of mentors and fellow writers. It’s a rare indulgence that writers need if they are to produce polished work or, indeed, hatch and develop a great idea. We find time for a few indulgences that you might not necessarily need: massages, amazing food, ocean swims, dinner with wine revelry. After your extensive productivity you may want to sample a few of them.

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Take it bird by bird…

‘All good writing is rewriting’ is an old chestnut that you’ll read a lot, when you read about writing. Because it’s utterly right. Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) talks of the ‘shitty first draft’. James Thurber said: ‘That draft isn’t any good; it isn’t supposed to be; the whole purpose is to sketch out proportions… I rarely have a very clear idea of where I’m going when I start. Just people and a situation. Then I fool around — writing and rewriting until the stuff gels.”

What sets us  apart from a lot of other writing workshops at Editing in Paradise is that we love editing. We are mad about it. We’re silly syntax spies (in both senses of ‘silly’). We love editing ourselves, each other … the TV, radio, press. Sure, we slash florid, flowery, elaborate, gaudy, gilded and excessive tautologies that say things the same way twice. [Clearly failed to self-edit, here!]

But it’s all because we love words and language. (We have puns at the ready.) And, more than that, what matters to us is the joy of collaborating with writers to find just the right word or phrase or scene of line of dialogue for any piece they’re writing.

Learning to work with feedback and accept or argue the toss is part of your solemn duty as a passionate writer. Often in that process, what emerges is the magic of the newly imagined … the next glimmer of wisdom that might be a change of tense or a change of point of view; or a new place to begin, or end.

Feedback, constructive critiquing (of self and others) and the techniques of self editing will be part of the writing toolkit you get at Editing in Paradise. And, it will set you apart from most writers.

One of our favourite quotes about the true approach that carves out a writer is from Thomas Mann, who said: “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” — Thomas Mann

When you learn to do your own editing with ease and confidence … you’ll write with far more ease and confidence. They are opposite sides of the same coin … and for many of our participants, that coin is a published manuscript.

Then, when you have your manuscript in the best shape it can be, having bent it, urged it, snapped it but not broken it… then an external editor’s counsel can be of real help.

With our support, too, there is information about what next steps to take to publishing your work.


Story keys here… read all about it

Bruce Springsteen said: “The artist’s job is to make other people care about your obsessions and to see them and experience them as their own. Finding your passion is one of the keys to writing your story.”

Some writers ist’s job is to make other peo nature. You might like solitude or (even) timing yourself to do your regular writing practice at a desk’.

You might use pencil and paper on the pages of your moleskin notebook, or an electronic notebook or computer. You may be soothed by Beethoven or the beating rhythms of Death Metal at piercing decibels.

At Editing in Paradise writing workshops and editing workshops, we’ll get you to shake it up a little. Try different ways of writing. We’ll encourage you to hang upside down if that writing. workshops, we’ll get you to sem and experience them as their own. Finding your pa… and then some!

Having a small group of supportive and enthusiastic fellow writers makes a difference. This is what writing and editing in this environment can offer: the sheer delight of knowing you can safely test your ideas on your supportive peers.

Not to be too disparaging about your peers, but… “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector. — Ernest Hemingway.

Hope and energy…that’s the spirit

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will,” said George Bernard Shaw.

During your time at an Editing in Paradise workshop or retreat, you will have daily opportunities to release and use that imagination and make it work to create something memorable and captivating.

You will be guided into a meditative state each morning, and given the tools to do a freewrite — a well-regarded and highly successful tool for tapping into your imagination — your stream of thoughts and feelings. It’s an effective writing tool for writing whatever comes to you, without hesitation; in an incessant stream. And while this may seem to be a recipe for producing… well, nonsense, once you have the hang of it, it can be a powerful fountain of ideas. In the meditation exercises, free writing becomes an ally and friend and creating has never been easier.

No matter how you nourish your particular creative process —mindmapping, journaling, seeing what comes or plotting each scene, or more — we will do our best to accommodate you, as well as share and introduce you to new techniques. You may  discover even better ways, so feel free to share. You gotta stay creative about being creative.

“… In my experience, the angel does, almost always, come. If I keep faith. On some days, keeping faith means simply staying there, when more than anything else  I want to get out of that room. It sometimes means going up without hope and without energy and turning on my computer.

And, at the end of two or three hours, and without hope and without energy, I find that I have indeed written some sentences that wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t gone up to write them. And — what is even more surprising — these sentences written without hope or energy often turn out to be just as good as the ones I wrote with hope and energy.”

Gail Godwin, ‘Rituals and Readiness’ in National Book Awards: The Writing Life

What is flow?


We believe that a holistic approach to writing is paramount. This will vary from writer to writer but for the Editing in Paradise programs, it simply means getting the measure of what works for you. You’ll need to balance a few things: hard work and musing; finessing each word and letting the writing flow as it may.

Then, each day, ask how  you create your individual flow. We don’t prefer or judge any one way. If it means burning the midnight oil with a few drams of Scotch whisky, or taking long walks with your notebook or recorder, or writing before the sunrise and before your first yoga class — we support you. Our belief is that whatever helps you write (within reason) can’t be all bad.

We’ve found that practicing mindfulness and a quiet exploration of your inner emotional landscape is a tremendous boost to the writing practice and increases your flow and writing productivity. Each day there are activities promoting that level of attention.

During the workshops we’ll examine what allows, even promotes, your writing flow. And, importantly, we’ll help you shed light on what impedes this rhythm. Your unique flow is the set up before you can actually begin to download ideas.

Next Workshops — one or two days non-residential

Next Retreats — two or more days residential and or overseas