That's the view from the tables behind Moniack Mhor, on Saturday at around 2pm.
It's rare when 10 women from completely different backgrounds, ranging in age from 30 to 76, can create a supportive, honest environment within moments of meeting one another. Apparently that happens frequently at writing retreats, but I haven't been on one like this before. Within an hour, we were brainstorming, creating, reading, critiquing, eating, drinking wine, and cozying up by the fire, pens and notebooks in hand, dreaming away.
It's that amorphous time between autumn and winter, so the weather is crisp, fridge-cold, with biting, fresh winds that feel like silk on the skin. The light up in the Highlands is beautiful right now. Sunset seems to last hours and flirts with oranges, pinks, peaches, yellows, golds until everything goes pitch black. And the blackness is impenetrable. The setting of a beautiful house in the country heightened everything - perhaps it was our focus on senses other than sight, but autumn seemed to engulf everything last weekend.
On Saturday night, after dinner, we all did readings of our own stuff - always a bit intimidating. I read from my very first novel, which I started while living in Slovenia in 2004 and trifled with until Shetland, when I finished the draft in a few short months. My agent wasn't as excited about it as she was about another project, so I figured that would be the first novel that nobody ever read. But the response was great. And partnered with a great pitch session last night at the Literary Salon, I might just dust off The Goddess of Woo and see whether it's salvageable.