Never having taken part in a creative writing course, I was excited, but a trifle anxious, when I was invited to join a ‘writing bootcamp’ at the Circle of Missé, a creative centre near my new home in France.
Lead by Annie Kirby, a renowned short-story writer who is also working on a full-length novel, with additional sessions by Wayne Milstead, resident writer, we worked mightily for six days on beginnings, histories, characters, memory, dialogue and pacing and structure.
The exercises were hard work, but so rewarding. The enthusiastic group of writers I found myself among contributed with such thoughtful insights I felt humbled by the talent that surrounded me.
I’m not a natural short story writer – I’m on my third novel now and and am very comfortable with the form – but such was the quality of the sessions and the technical support, I might give it another go. After this week, I am confident I can produce something that might be presentable!
Complementing the work were sessions on wine-tasting, local sightseeing, a writing day away in Chinon and gourmet lunches and dinners, masterminded by Aaron Tighe, resident chef.
We had plenty of time in the afternoons to write; some worked on short stories, others on their novels. Help, advice, and listening support was available at all times during the week and participants had the chance of three more structured (or not!) one-to-one sessions with Annie to discuss their work.
The tone of the whole week was warm, safe and nurturing. Being a newbie writer, I was anxious about sharing my work – I’m a commercial fiction animal, not literary – but I was encouraged and supported to do so and was pleased to receive genuine, positive and helpful comments.
So, we worked hard, explored, definitely learned a lot and had fun.
Tired? I was knackered by day six, not to put a fine point on it, but oh, it was so worth it, as my heroine would say.