Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writer's Retreat, With Birds

Your company for the summer
Bird Watch Ireland is selling a pair of summer jobs in the wrong way.

They're almost apologetic about the opportunity to go off to an isolated island, uninhabited by humans, to monitor the roseate tern population. No other people but the two selected for the job. No Internet access. No distractions. Just keep an eye on the birds from time to time and don't get into a holy row with your bird-watching partner because that person is the only other person around to talk to.

This, Bird Watch Ireland, is the perfect writer's retreat.

How long can it take in a day to slap a few rings on bird legs, count a few nests and look for bird eggs? Once you've handled these simple chores, you have nothing but time, and what writer doesn't need time like this to work on a manuscript. The distractions are few, and if you're on this island with another writer, the two of you could be each other's beta readers and really get something accomplished.

While you go about your work, you can mull over sentences in your head and then commit them to paper after the birds have gone to bed. In essence, you would be writing all day, without some boss interfering by giving you a new project or clients ringing you up asking after something you were supposed to get to them ASAP.

And best of all, this is not a retreat where you pay to attend. No indeed. The State will give you money, like a regular employee, a weekly paycheck. Can you imagine getting paid to write? It's like a dream.

There is little time to waste if you're to take advantage of this incredible opportunity. Don't forget to bring lots of paper and plenty of pencils, or pens with an abundance of bottled ink. Night after night, nothing to do but work on a novel, one that might involve the isolation in which we all live despite a crowd of people (or birds) hovering around us. You could find out you're a literary fiction genius before August rolls around and it's time to go back to the madding crowd.

Surrounded by screeching sea birds, you could wax most philosophical. The makings of a great work of literary fiction are to be found here, if you act now to secure your position as tern minder by day, writer by night.

And when you return to civilization and write to a literary agent seeking representation, what could pique more interest than a mention that the manuscript was written on an uninhabited island off the coast of North Dublin? You'd get a few requests for manuscripts with that kind of unique feature, and getting a publishing contract is all about standing out from the mob.

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