Back at Circle of Missé again

One of the outdoor writing nooks at Circle of Misse
One of the outdoor writing nooks at Circle of Misse

I always enjoy my stays as a writer-in-residence at Circle of Missé, and so I was really pleased when Aaron and Wayne asked me to come back again in 2013.

I’ll be there in July, which I am really looking forward to because I haven’t experienced this month at Missé before. One of the pleasures of a writer’s stay in this converted old farmhouse in the Loire countryside is sitting outside with their writer’s notebook, or perhaps a cup of tea or a glass of good wine, and enjoying all the plants blooming in the garden at that time of year.

As usual, I’ll be teaching as well as writing while I’m there. My courses run from 22 July onwards, and lots of information about what you can expect if you sign up is available on the Circle of Missé website. There’ll be opportunities for one-to-one feedback and group workshopping, writing exercises, discussions about the craft of writing, and solitary writing time too. You can find out more about my approach to teaching here. The truth is, though, that I won’t know exactly how everything will run until I find out more about the particular writers in my group and their individual writing plans or projects.

And that’s the great thing about all the courses at Missé: that they allow for this kind of tailoring and flexibility. Because the maximum number of participants per course is always kept very low, tutors can gear their sessions specifically to what each writer needs.

If you know of someone who you think might be interested, I’d be really grateful if you could point them in the direction of the Circle of Missé.

I’m looking forward to finding out more about this year’s participants. Who knows, maybe you’ll be one of them.

At Circle of Missé

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.

Taking a break from writing in the Circle of Missé garden

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.

The spring sky through the blossom branches

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.

Thank you to Aaron, Wayne and Alison for your hospitality, and the usual fine food and company.

Thanks to everyone who entered…

Congratulations to Stuart Evers, a very worthy winner of Circle of Missé’s 2012 Writing Competition for his extract from the novel YNWA. Stuart wins a free place on the Circle of Missé course A Writer Progresses in April or May of this year.

As Emma Claire Sweeney and I judged all of the entries anonymously, the identity of the winner and all those who made the shortlist had been a secret to us until today, so it’s great to be able to put a name to such an engagingly written story.

Congratulations also to Viccy Adams, Terry Edge, Sarah Evans, Hilary Fennell, Caroline Healy, Sophie Mackintosh and Katherine Matthews, the seven runners-up.

For more details about the contest and the judging process, please visit the Circle of Missé website.

Emma and I really enjoyed reading all of the shortlisted entries, and I know I’d definitely love to see anyone who entered on my course at Missé in April.

Circle of Missé 2012 Spring Writing Competition

Circle of Misse house
Image I took of the Circle of Missé house from the garden during my stay in 2011

My good friend the writer Emma Claire Sweeney and I have been asked to be the judges for Circle of Missé’s first ever writing contest. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ll be teaching the course A Writer Progresses at Missé in April, so this represents just another chance to become involved in some of the great work that goes on there.

Here are the details for anyone who is interested:

Win a Week of Mentoring in France to Further Develop Your Fiction or Non-fiction Book

Submit a 2,000-5,000 word excerpt of your novel, memoir, short story collection or nonfiction book-in-progress for a chance to win a free place on one of Circle of Misse’s Spring 2012 ‘A Writer Progresses’ week-long mentored courses where you will be able to work directly with a writer and teacher to further develop your book and take it to the next level. Runners-up receive an invitation to attend one of the two courses at a deeply discounted rate to further develop their books. All entries receive 10% off any writing course offered by Circle of Misse in 2012.

Entry fee: FREE!

Competition closes: 22 January 2012

Full details are on the Circle of Missé website.

Good luck to everyone who decides to give it a go. I’m really looking forward to reading those entries.

“A Writer Progresses” at Circle of Missé

Corner of the gardens at Missé. I took this picture last year during an afternoon wander.

Having had such a wonderful stay at Circle of Missé in 2011, I was delighted to be asked back for a second year. The location itself with its stone farmhouse walls, its garden vines humming with bees, the surrounding sunflower fields, is one that really inspires creativity. To add to this, there’s great food and wine, and Aaron and Wayne’s sense of hospitality. Really, what more could a writer want?

As usual, I’ll be doing a week’s teaching for the first half of my stay there and then spending the following week as the writer in residence, giving me the chance to focus exclusively on my own writing. From 2 to 8 April I’ll be teaching the course A Writer Progresses.

Open to all skill levels, A Writer Progresses is for writers who already have a project underway, either in the form of some completed draft work or just a strong set of ideas about where you hope to be heading. During the week participants spend at Missé, there will be opportunities for one-to-one feedback and group workshopping, writing exercises directly related to the projects individual group members are working on, discussions about the craft of writing, and solitary writing time too.

One real strong point of the Missé experience, in addition to the fact that everyone gets very well looked after while they’re there, is the small class sizes. The maximum numbers allowed for each course is always capped very low – something that guarantees lots of individual attention for everyone in the group.

This being the case, early booking for the week is advisable, particularly because reserving your place before 31 December will allow you to take advantage of the 10% Early Bird Discount.

For more information, I recommend you visit the Circle of Missé website. If you think you might be interested, but still have some questions, do send me a message using the Contact Emily tab above. Alternatively, you can get in touch with Circle of Missé directly, through their Any Questions page.

I hope to see you there in April!