On Not Writing


abandoned_typewriterHe wrote with all the inventive precision of a young Vladimir Nabokov. Every piece he submitted was thrilling to read. As his tutors, we discussed our most promising student over after-work drinks; wondered if we might be named in his acknowledgements, looked forward to being invited to his book launch.

Shift to the present tense. Six years after he completed the University’s Creative Writing programme as one of our ‘tipped for the top’ authors, I bump into Martin.

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Writing Retreat in France – Summer 2015


writing retreat

Writers: Escape to France!

Writing Retreat 28th June – 3rd July 2015

Come and spend a week with me in the Dordogne this summer on a fully-catered writing retreat. Each morning there will be workshops focusing on some of the key elements of good fiction.  Then we break for lunch, usually by the pool if the weather is good.  The afternoons are all yours: see me for an in-depth discussion of your works, take the chance to do some writing, swim in the private pool, go for a walk in the extensive grounds (with woodland and lakes), explore local villages, or a combination of all of the above.  No need to do any cooking; just kick back, relax, and get inspired. A real chance to focus on you and your writing for the week.

Every participant will get two one-to-one tutorials, with in-depth feedback on a short story, or a chapter of your novel-in-progress, or any other piece of writing you’d like to share.  Plus of course there’s a chance to chat over lunch and dinner, about writing, getting published, or anything else you’d like to talk to me about!

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Writing Retreat in the Dordogne – Book Now!


Dordogne Writing Retreat

Fully Catered Writing Retreat in South West France – 16-21 June 2013

Poetry at Le Manoir de Gurson, Dordogne

Looking for a writing retreat somewhere beautiful and relaxing with a professional writer to guide you? You and your writing are at the centre of this writing retreat in the heart of the Dordogne. 

Prize-winning poet and novelist Ros Barber will inspire you and help you hone your writing in a structured-yet-relaxing week of creative focus. Whether you are writing poetry or prose, bringing a manuscript in progress or beginning a new writing project, Ros will individually guide each participant to help them get the most out of their week and their writing. Ros can also give advice on getting your work published.

After a delicious breakfast, the mornings will be about knuckling down to writing, with a mix of structured workshops where you can generate new ideas and explore new approaches. Alternatively, you choose to work alone on your own writing in your room or anywhere else in the locality. Just before lunch, Ros will facilitate a feedback session, where you will give and receive feedback on any writing you’d like to share with other participants.

The afternoons are your own: for writing in the house or the extensive grounds, gaining inspiration from the surrounding countryside and villages, or just lazing by the pool allowing the ideas to flow to you. You’ll be offered a one-to-one mentoring session during the week, so bring some work-in-progress to discuss with Ros. There will also be plenty of opportunities for ad hoc sharing and guidance.

After the evening meal, we’ll gather together for a relaxed combination of reading and discussion over a glass or two of wine.

Dordogne Writing Retreat

 Relax in Style

Le Manoir de Gurson is the ideal venue for such a venture, nestling in 98 acres of beautiful scenery in South West France.  You will be inspired by all around you, and benefit from Ros’ experience on a first-hand basis while you spend time with like-minded people in a spectacular setting.

When you are not writing, you may like to spend time on the sun terrace, or in the pool which overlooks the hidden valley, fishing lakes and woods.

This is the place with the space to relax, unwind, and be inspired.

Le Manoir has been awarded 4-star rating, and every bedroom has private en-suite facilities.  There is a large fully-equipped kitchen, lounge with tv, front and rear halls, 5 en-suite bedrooms (4 kingsize, one twin) and private pool.

Ros Barber is the author of three collections of poetry, including Material, a Poetry Book Society recommendation.  Her work has been featured on Radio 3’s The Verb and Radio 4’s Saturday Review and Poetry Please. Critically acclaimed verse novel The Marlowe Papers is longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013, was listed in the Observer’s Books of the Year 2012 and was joint winner of the Hoffman Prize 2011.  For twelve years a creative writing tutor at the University of Sussex, she now tutors for the Arvon Foundation, Ty Newydd, and the Poetry School in London.

For full details of the week, and to book, CLICK HERE

The Marlowe Papers at Wantage Betjeman Festival


Vale & Download Museum, Wantage

Workshop  1-3pm   £10

Reading      6pm        £6/£4

Ros Barber’s critically acclaimed verse novel The Marlowe Papers has been called ‘the best read, so far, this year’ (Sunday Express), ‘elegant and charmingly playful’ (Sunday Telegraph), ‘a thrilling alternate version of Marlowe’s life’ (Observer) and ‘a gripping addition to the authorship debate’ (The Times).  It has also been hailed as ‘surprisingly accessible’ (Time Out) and ‘as excitingly plotted as any holiday thriller… The Marlowe Papers thunders along like an episode of some Elizabethan 24’ (Literary Review).  
Ros herself is renowned for the entertaining and powerful quality of her live readings.  Come and hear Ros read from, and talk about, The Marlowe Papers at Wantage Betjeman Festival on Tuesday 30 October at 6pm.  Questions on the research behind the novel (e.g. Elizabethan spy networks) and the process of getting a verse novel published by a mainstream publisher are very welcome.   You can hear an extract of Ros reading The Marlowe Papers, and download a free mp3 audio of the opening chapter, at www.rosbarber.com.  More details, and online ticket booking here: http://bit.ly/TfGj6x

The Marlowe Papers was joint winner of the Hoffmann Prize in 2011. It was published by Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton) in May 2012 and will be published in the US by St Martin’s Press (Macmillan) in January.
Ros will also be running a poetry workshop from 1pm-3pm.  Tickets (£10) to be booked separately.

Be The Writer You Dream of Being at Ledbury Poetry Festival



Writers block, fear of failure, a general lack of inspiration – these are the states of mind that make it impossible to write well.  Successful writing depends entirely upon mental processes. Come and learn a simple technique that will allow you to break through the blocks and drop some of your writing ‘baggage’ in this workshop. For more information call the box office on            0845 458 1743 or see the Be The Writer You Dream of Being website.

Date: Sunday 8 July

Time: 10.30am – 12.30pm

Venue: Old Cottage Hospital, Ledbury

Price:  £8/£6