“Having the opportunity to share the week in Gibraltar with so many brilliant and creative people from around the world was absolutely wonderful. The time to think, talk, write, draw, paint, and share gave us all such confidence to express ourselves. For me that confidence came through sharing a love of stories and story-telling with everyone and realising that between us we can work to create some wonderful books for readers world-wide.”
“I cannot say “thank you” enough to Sarah, Ellie, Chris and Ken for the amazing experience at The Rock Retreat. Everything about it was inspiring and informative.
I need to now figure out a way to get back into real life here at home and keep writing.
I’m struggling – you all should have warned the group of the real possibility of Rock Retreat Withdrawal!”Carol Bennett
“I gained a huge deal from the Retreat. Sarah was an incredible teacher – patient, wise and encouraging. Through the week, I learned so much about the publishing industry and what makes a book work. The week was broken into five essential elements of writing, such as plot and dialogue, and I found these invaluable as a way of breaking down some of the mystery of writing. I learned lots of techniques from the writing exercises we did each day, and created many character and situational sketches.
I even came away with several ideas for new books, which I hadn’t been expecting! I learnt how to use mind-mapping techniques on a large sheet of paper. How to write to the end of my story before even starting the edits. I learnt from my fellow writers what made their writing tick and also the things that didn’t. The group was so open to giving and receiving feedback – and it felt like an incredibly safe and respectful space in which we could share our words.
Every writer in the room taught me something, and I got to make friends with writers from around the world – something I would never have been able to do without the Retreat. We all learned from each other and encouraged each other. And throughout we had Sarah’s expert guidance in helping us to channel our thoughts down on to the page.”Iqbal Hussain
“With Sarah by my side I knew that we could bring about a unique post covid burst of energy and become connected in a way that had been prevented for so many for so long. We reached out to emerging writers and artists and we were rewarded with the most exciting applications from all over the world. People responded to our wish to be face to face, connecting and developing our craft together. Gibraltar generously delivered warmth and welcome, the attendees affirmed to me the beauty of our common bonds as storytellers. Thank you, everyone who made this possible and came to share and explore.”
“Probably the most important lesson I learned is that you need to obviously have an idea for a story but the craft that infuses every book is paramount.
I will definitely keep up the writing practice and read everything I can lay my hands on.
Thank you for giving me the stepping stones and also for being kind to me. I did at times feel in awe of the writing from other members of the group.”Caroline Wright
“The week in Gibraltar has been a wonderful piece of creative life, which I am sure will generate many others.
Thanks to you and all the people who were there, I am back in France with more confidence and I am all the more motivated to go back to my manuscript.
I don’t think I can begin to tell you how thankful I am for welcoming and guiding us the way you did”Lou-Josephine Landais
Ken Wilson Max
“Thanks for everything that you have done to make the Rock Retreat 2022 a reality.
It has been a transformative experience for me.
I am now more comfortable embracing the title of writer, and I am committing to doing the hard work that this entails.”Rochelle Smith
“It really unclogged some of the creative blockages I had been dealing with and I was able to complete two chapters of my WIP quickly when I returned home.
I think it was obvious that I had a good time away because my daughter, who is nearly three, rather resentfully told me to “Go back to Gibraltar!” when she was in a mood. It’s a family joke now.”Anne Elicano-Shields
Illustrator & Writer
“It was a real privilege to be part of the Rock Retreat experience. For me it was a reminder of what a special place Gibraltar is, having lived there as a boy, and I had the impression it had an inspiring effect on us all.
The Garrison Library was such a fantastic location to hold writing workshops and the walks and excursions just added to the creative buzz for the attendees. There was a lot of work done over the five days, but it was also, just as importantly, a very social and supportive week.
I think many people made friends they will keep for a long time. It felt like the start of a process. I certainly can’t wait to see what my little writing group does next.
It was a joy to spend time with such a clever, talented and warm set of people, hearing their stories and seeing them develop their voices. I could see them growing as writers through the week. It was very special. “
“When I was accepted into the Rock Retreat, I was not certain what to expect.
I know I had a deep desire to share Caymanian culture with other Caymanians and the world and I also hoped to learn more about the publishing world.
My Rock Retreat experience was positively informative, interestingly unique and packed with gems of artist lessons that I did not know I needed.
Not only did I learn about the publishing world, but I was also taught the practical side of children’s books and how they are made.
I was inspired by all the sights of the beautiful and culture enriched country of Gib. I was able to fully immerse myself in a culture totally different from my own, meet new and inspiring people who were like-minded, go on walking sketching tours, explore dark cobble stone alleys for the sake of a good sketch, getting face to face with a lemur and monkey, going down tunnels on the Rock – all very exciting experiences.
I discovered new phrases, such as third culture children, that described fittingly exactly what it is very common in my home country, the Cayman Islands. I discovered the importance of sketching and how to sketch well.
As Ken, our very helpful masterclass illustrator instructor says,
“A sketch is a picture that tells part of a story.”
I discovered how important it is to criticize positively and take criticism well for the improvement of your craft.
The Retreat made me privy to one on one’s with renown illustrators and authors who were very concise and helpful with their advice. I will never forget my time there and the people I met.”Michelle Bryan
“A quote about how much fun ya had”
“I just want to say a massive thank you to yourself, Ellie and the rest of the team for making the week so memorable.
I didn’t really know what to expect from the experience and couldn’t quite believe I was being given that opportunity. It was just great being part of and surrounded by a group of such talented people.
I tried my best to soak everything up and really listen and learn about what it might take to one day become a children’s book illustrator.
In a short space of time I learnt some really valuable lessons and brought home ideas about new ways to work and create stories/ characters.
Spending time with the group and working with Ken really helped to push me outside my comfort zone for the first time in a while.
I found the whole experience inspiring and even though I know it all happened I still think it might’ve been some kind of dream!”Jonny Kirkwood