Last weekend I went on a writers retreat in Sussex. We were 'dream writing', an astonishingly effective way of accessing the deep stuff very quickly and it's amazing what comes out. I was part of a small group of dream writers and it was an incredible privilege to listen to other people's writing and beautiful stories that appeared, as if by magic. I had arrived on Friday night after a long journey, quite jangled up and tired and with no preconceived idea about what might happen over the weekend, but after our first exercise on Saturday morning, as we all wandered off to find a quiet corner to write for a few hours, a character from a novel for children I wrote ten years ago that was never published took the opportunity to nudge her way back into my mind. I thought I was looking for new inspiration and I tried, very politely, to push her away but, like an unexpected guest at a party, she just wouldn't leave me alone. It was very clear she had a lot to say and by the time we broke for lunch I had written over 1,500 words about her, but she was no longer the young teenage girl in my original story, she was now a grandmother with children and grandchildren of her own. Sadly we had to leave our dream writers cocoon on Sunday afternoon and return to our normal lives, but I came away with so much; memories of a wonderful experience, renewed confidence in my writing, inspiration, energy, 7 new friends ... and one old friend who came to remind me she was still there ... it made me think about the power of writing and how the characters we conjure up in our minds are made of more than just pure imagination.