Has that joke been made before? It probably has… Some of you may know I spent last week up in Yorkshire on an Arvon course. It was all about short stories, and it was taught by Nicholas Royle and Claire Massey, with a rather memorable visit from M John Harrison. Memorable because something clicked. I”m still trying to work out what exactly happened up there, but a week”s retreat, the space to think, the excellent tuition I received, and an almighty dose of mindblowing inspiration caused something strange to happen. You will find many, many clich?s on the subject of studying at Arvon. All of them are true, and they crop up repeatedly which (as Nicholas Royle pointed out to me) is why they are clich?s. I think he was suggesting it”s ok to say that “Arvon changed my life” and “something amazing happened” and other X Factor type nonsense. It”s not nonsense though…that”s the thing. A week on retreat really does do things to you as a writer. It brings a level of commitment that you may not have experienced back at home. It brings a creative stimulus that is hard to beat. There”s expert tuition, encouragement, the joy of new friendships and beautiful views to stare at from your window. I did realise, two days in, that Arvon could be held in a tower block in the middle of Birmingham and with the right input and a great bunch of fellow writers, the results would be the same. So I propose that PowWow raids Castle Vale and… Not really. I do think that PowWow could hold its own retreat in the next year or so though, and that everyone would benefit enormously. Christ, the first thing I did on returning was remove myself from Facebook. That”s how seriously I”m now taking this writing lark. So, Arvon comes highly recommended in my book. And the idea of a PowWow retreat excites me immensely. I would dearly love to spend a week with you lot, my lovely friends, and share the joy of new work emerging and creative spirits soaring.