I am now almost at the end of a two-week stay at Circle of Missé. Situated in a vine-fronted, stone farmhouse in the Loire region of France, and surrounded by fields and a vast open sky, it’s the ideal setting for getting stuck into a creative project.
In my case, this is a novel. In my first week here, my main focus was the Writer Progresses course, which I thoroughly enjoyed teaching. I still managed to fit in about an hour’s writing on most days, though, and since the participants went home, I’ve been able to give my chapters-in-progress a lot more attention.
I’ve been rising early every morning, during that misty-blue cusp between dark and light. With fewer distractions than I’d usually have back at home, I’ve really been able to get on with things. I’ve ironed out several structural problems, tightened up key scenes and discovered new things about my characters.
Coming away on retreat always makes me realise how much of my time is usually taken up with housework and errands, administration, lesson planning and marking deadlines. And although these tasks aren’t even all that bad, it’s a pleasure to have a little break from reality.
I’ve loved being able to wander out into the garden in the evening, to take in the last sunshine of the day and listen to the thrum of the bees in the wisteria, or to just have the time to sit and think.