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.

Short story in Untitled Books

I’ve been a big fan of Untitled Books ever since the website started, so I’m really happy that my short story “The Picture of Mrs Brewster” appears in Issue 45 this month.

As usual, their June edition features fascinating articles about books and writing, interviews with writers, and short fiction from new and established authors.

Many thanks to Jack Blanchard, Sarah Butler, Ariella Feiner, Emma Claire Sweeney and Wayne Milstead for your encouragement and helpful feedback on early drafts of this piece.

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.