In 1997, I was shipwrecked in my life. I had lost the past, and was full of fear for the future. On an impulse, because I saw it advertised in THE SOCIETY OF AUTHORS magazine, I enrolled on a course with Sue Townsend (Of Adrian Mole fame). I wanted to laugh, and learn. I wanted a holiday. I had never travelled abroad alone before. I was apprehensive.
Skyros island itself is beautiful - like the enchanted island in Shakespeare's TEMPEST. The journey there is a slow induction into a different culture, climate, ethos. The place is heaven scented with herbs.
Sue's course was everything I hoped for, fun, insightful, dazzling. But the whole place, the whole atmosphere, was so welcoming. They told me something amazing. "You can do whatever you set out to do."
And so I did. I joined other courses as a participant, one run by writer Andrew Davies, another by founder Dina Glouberman. Out of this I gained new confidence - enough to offer myself as a facilitator.
I have now done this for eight years. This year will be my ninth. But in between, I have done all sorts of other things, pushed my own boundaries, testing the limits of courage I didn't know I had.
The experience has been one of the best of my life. It isn't perfect - nothing human is. You'll find all the usual faults and frailties. But you will also dream new and remarkable dreams, and you will discover the love of strangers. I was washed up - but on such a lovely shore.
Be prepared to discover the fresh and new, occasionally to confront difficult experiences, to unfold, rather than to be instructed.
Be ready to eat well, and be startled by the sudden laugh of a donkey, the dart of a lizard, tempted by the very special jewellery and ceramics of Skyros. You will stand in the wonderful stone amphitheatre overlooking the sea and be amazed. You will be on an island of myth and magic - and you will carry that with you home. You may, like many of us, pass it on.
Although I am a children's writer my course on Skyros has always been for adults (not forgetting the inner child). I have a deep grounding in literature and many years experience of teaching - which has always been mutually rewarding. So it is not so much the kind of writer I am that determines the nature of the course, but the kind of teacher I am. And the kind of people you are. We make our own unique mix, every time.
Anyone wishing to e-mail me for more details of my course is welcome to do so.
At the age of 21 Joyce Dunbar decided she was a writer, but she didn't know what sort. For the next 15 years she wrote poetry, fiction, journalism, and radio talks on a range of subjects, with limited success, while teaching literature to adults.
It wasn't until she was 35 that she wrote her first children's book, inspired by an illustration. Since then she has published 80 more. She also teaches creative writing, is a former writing fellow at UEA, and at present her 12 step guide to writing can be found on the BOOKTRUST website in BOOKBITE. She is also writing a memoir.
Joyce will be running her course 'What Kind of Writer Are You?' at the Writers' Lab on Skyros island, Greece, from Sunday 18 to Saturday 31 July. The course will explore different genres to help you discover the kind of writer you truly are... Call 01983 865566 or book online at www.skyros.com.