"Peak Collaboration: Creating Group Fiction" with Alice Campion

Alice Campion is four writers in one – the only group writing commercially-published fiction in the world. We believe there are thousands of potentially brilliant novelists who are simply not suited to solitary writing. Some run out of self-confidence when writing by themselves, or find their creativity really comes alive only when it sparks off others.

Whether you are an established or emerging writer, or even if you have no plans to write in a group in the long term, this supportive workshop will help you tap into your creativity and show you how to pin those ideas that have been swirling around your head onto a page.

Using the Alice Campions’ successful techniques, you will work within a small team to create a finished short work of collaborative fiction.

The vibrant natural and cultural world of the Himalayas should provide inspiring shared sights, sounds, experiences and characters that will resonate in your writing. The Alice process includes periods of both solitary and shared work, and whether you’re hiking, meditating or shopping in a bustling market, your mind will be collecting gems to bring back to the group. The process also includes lots of laughter and you may well forge deep creative bonds.

 

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Day 1: When you arrive in Kathmandu our drivers will pick you up from the airport and deliver you to the Hotel Vajra, where you can unwind, rest, enjoy the garden and a meal, and soak up the atmosphere.  Once everyone has arrived we will have a chat to find out a bit about each other and then talk to you briefly about collaborative writing and how we have made it work for us. We will then outline our plans for the workshop. Our aim? To have each of you collaborate in small groups to produce a short story by the end of our time here, a story that in some way has been influenced by the sights, sounds and smells of Nepal. Over the coming days there will be writing, there will be work, there will be laughs. Lots to discover over dinner before turning in.

 

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Day 2: After an early breakfast at the hotel, we’ll gather in the library – the perfect place to get to know each other and find out what genres you are keen to write in. While you are chatting we will take time to speak to each of you each individually so we can understand what you are hoping to gain from the workshop. Before lunch, we’ll walk to the nearby Swaymbunath stupa (known as “The Monkey Temple”) for a spectacular view across the Kathmandu Valley.  We’ll also learn about local architecture and Nepal’s rich Buddhist and Hindu traditions.  After lunch, you willbreak into groups anddiscuss the type of story you are interested in writing. This is where you will kick-start your short story by forming the rough outlines of a plot. Nepal may be your inspiration but inspiration can come in many guises. Yours might be a story set in ancient Nepal; a crime story based on a murder committed here. Or maybe it will be set in Texas but involve a character who spent years in Kathmandu.  After a few hours of collaboration and plotting - with coaching from the Alices - we’ll head out for a stroll through Asan Tol (the old market district) and on to Thamel for a night on the town and a chance to enjoy some excellent authentic cuisine. As you wander the streets, take in the smells, sights and sounds and think about how you can use them.

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Day 3:  After an early breakfast at the Hotel Vajra, we’ll meet in the library for a morning of workshops and writing. Here we will focus on adding layers of character. We will also identify the crucial turning point in our stories and discuss how to get the most out of the collaborative process. Then it’s off to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Patan.  For centuries, Patan has been a town of artisans and we today offers the chance to meet some of the people who give this city its unique beauty.  After a patio lunch, we’ll return to our hotel where you’ll have some time to reflect and write before joining the whole group for a typical Tibetan meal at the beautiful rooftop restaurant of the Vajra.

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Day 4:  After breakfast at the Hotel Vajra we’ll again gather in the library for a morning of workshops, individual writing and discussion. By now your stories should be taking shape and you will be giving and taking feedback as you build your story.  We then journey to Boudhanath, the Tibetan Buddhist heart of Kathmandu.  For centuries, this vibrant place of spiritual power has been the destination of pilgrims from around the world. For the next three days this will be our home as we explore and gather seeds of inspiration from the sounds, sights, tastes & smells swirling around the Great Stupa at Boudhanath.

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Day 5:  Pashupatinath is a one of the most sacred Hindu sites in the Indian subcontinent.  As well as being the home of wandering holy men, cave yogis, and Shiva devotees, the cremation ghats on the banks of the Bagmati River are an ideal place for us to reflect on our writing and what we hope to achieve with our stories, whether it be a perfect description; an ability to transport a reader somewhere, or being able to portray someone very different to yourself with empathy and certainty. Or maybe it is just a twist that no-one saw coming?  We will be up with the sunrise today to join the local Nepalis for their morning devotional prayers at Pashupatinath, and then we’ll return to Boudhanath for an afternoon of redrafting and rest.  In the evening you are free to explore the colourful side streets and markets of Boudhanath

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Day 6: The temples and monasteries of Boudhanath offer a living mandala of authentic spiritual teachers in the Buddhist tradition.  Today we will visit a few of these monasteries, and immerse ourselves in the teachings, visual expressions and rituals that bring this tradition to life.  We will have the chance to meet Buddhist teachers and to experience meditation practice in one of the local temples.  Afterwards, there will be time for writing and some relaxation.

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Day 7: Ascending to 1,550 metresabove the Kathmadnu Valley, today we journey to our new home for the next 3 days: the Namo Buddha Resort.  This beautiful hotel offers beautifully landscaped gardens and, when the weather is clear, stunning views of the snow-peaked Himalayas.  It is a 30-minute walk to one of the most sacred "power places" for spiritual practice and retreat in the Kathmandu Valley. We'll arrive at the Namo Buddha Resort in the late afternoon, settle into our cottages, and soak up the scenery. Here in the deep solitude of a mountain retreat we will have uninterrupted space and time to bring our newly-found ideas and inspirations into our joint work.

 

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Day 8:    After a hearty breakfast in view of the snow-peaks, we will take a short walk to nearby Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery, perched on a steep ridge overlooking the valley. The beautiful and sprawling Thrangu Monastery was built on the hillside where, in a previous life, the Buddha is said to have offered his own body to a starving tigress in order that she could feed her cubs. The site is a principal pilgrimage place for Tibetan BuddhistsLater, when we return to the Namo Buddha Resort, we will have all afternoon to write and reflect.  After dinner will be a casual evening spent working with our groups. We will also suggest ways to help you overcome any stumbling blocks or difficulties.

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Day 9:  We will spend our last full day in the mountains, refining our stories, working on new fixes for parts that might not be working as well as you would have hoped.

After reconvening for sunset cocktails, the featured writers will hold an interactive session. Here perhaps we can discuss what your writing plans are for the future. This will be a chance to kick back with the writers in a fun atmosphere. Perhaps there will be music, poetry…

 

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Day 10:   After a final breakfast in the mountains, we will return to Kathmandu for a celebratory day at the luxurious Dwarikas Hotel.  Here you will have an opportunity to take advantage of the hotel’s charming gardens, swimming pool, spa & shops, and in the evening we will gather again to enjoy to an elaborate traditional Nepali-style dinner.  After dinner, we will conclude the Himalayan Writers Workshop with a reading of the short stories. Who knows – maybe they will end up on bookshelves?

 

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Day 11:  After breakfast at Dwarika's Hotel, it's time to say goodbye and head back home.  Our staff will be ready to help with airport transportation & anything you need for your onward journey...

Rooms are shared (private rooms are available for an extra fee depending upon availability).

You'll spend a total of 3 nights at the Hotel Vajra, an authentic, Newari-style hotel with some Tibetan touches. You'll have everything you need for a very comfortable stay. Rooms have parquet floors and the attached bathrooms all have shower and running hot water. There is a old-style Library with several writing tables at the Vajra, which will be used for our workshops.  Rooms are also equipped with chairs and writing desk and there are quiet corners to work in the gardens. Some rooms have a coffee table and private balcony.  Internet services are located on the ground floor.

During your 3 nights at the Siddhi Manakamana Hotel, you’ll rise to the sound of monastery horns and enjoy early morning practice as monastic life carries on around you. Siddhi Manakamana, located just a few steps from the Boudhanath Stupa – the heart of Buddhist Nepal – and offers simple, comfortable rooms, each with its own bathroom and hot water, flat screen TV, and balcony opening out to a pleasant garden. Here you can relax and be inspired by the many sights and experiences that this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers.

 

Located at the top of an 1,800 meter (5,905 ft) hill, the Namo Buddha Resort offers a taste of the simple life in the Nepali countryside. Comprised of several small, beautifully built cottages, this one-of-a-kind resort is rich in traditional Nepali style. All cottages feature, adobe walls, decorative niches, stone roofs, colorful textiles and lots of gorgeous woodwork. On a clear morning, wake up to panoramic views of the Himalaya, including the Annapurna and Khumbu mountain ranges.

The resort is surrounded by forest and has its own organic farm where vegetables, grains, flowers and many fruits are grown. They collect milk from their own cows and honey from their bees. They also makes their own jams, breads, and other bakery items.  Namo Buddha Resort also features wireless internet and a wood sauna.

For the final leg of our journey, we'll return to Kathmandu mid-afternoon and spend our last day at one of the city's finest addresses: the luxurious Dwarika's Hotel. Lonely Planet calls it "a cross between a museum and a boutique hotel, with a lush, pampering ambience."  Here we'll not only have time to relax and indulge a bit before heading back home, but we'll also host a final reading event, open to the public. The featured writers from the Himalayan Writers Workshop's will read from their own work and, if you feel inspired, you are welcome to add your voice to a final celebration of travel & creativity.

 

Program Fee:

$2,980 (USD) regular program fee double occupancy (+$400 for single room depending upon availability)
Final payment deadline: March 9, 2018

A non-refundable deposit of $600 is required at the time of registration to hold your space.

Late registration: After March 9, 2018 we can accommodate late registration only in the event that a space remains available. If a late registration is possible after March 9, 2018, full payment is required at the time of registration to hold your space and the entire payment is non-refundable.

Fee includes: 10 nights accommodations, 3 vegetarian meals per day on most days, bottled water and tea/coffee at meal times, scheduled excursions to pilgrimage sites, knowledgeable guides and teachers, all entrance fees, land transportation within Nepal, and airport transfers.

Fee does not include: air fare to and from Kathmandu, airport or departure taxes not included in your air ticket, visa fees ($40), additional hotel nights before or after scheduled program dates, unscheduled activities and excursions, soft drinks, alcohol and espresso drinks, phone calls, massage services, shopping, laundry or other personal expenses, additional meals, drinks and snacks, travel insurance, trekking extensions, or single supplements ($400 depending upon availability).

The program begins late Monday afternoon (around 4pm), April 9th and ends after breakfast on Thursday, April 19th. You may arrive on April 9th and depart on April 19th if you like.

Please inform us if, due to flight arrival and departure dates, you require an extra night or two on either end of the trip and we'll place a reservation on your behalf. (A fee for extra hotel nights would apply.)