Last month I spent a wet but hugely inspirational week at Circle of Missé in the Loire Valley in France, on their “A Writer Progresses” course. Despite the almost incessant rain it was a sublime place to immerse myself in the beginnings of my editing process, tutored and encouraged by the author, Carol Topolski and Circle of Missé’s inestimable host, Wayne Milstead.
Circle of Missé is a writing and cookery school like no other. A cosy, creaky old house bristling with character and swaddled in the aromas of its rural setting, and of the always-on fresh coffee, local wines and provisions and, of course, the magnificent feasts-in-preparation. I slept in a bed more comfortable than my own, in a room that fell so silent at night that all I could hear was the cry of an owl. In the mornings, Carol taught and tutored, and in the afternoons we wrote, with support and insight, where we sought it, from Wayne.
Wayne and co-host Aaron know how to create an ambiance that allows the writer simply to focus on their work, nurtured and well-fed, both physically and creatively. It’s a special place, and I recommend it warmly.
As for my writing…. With Carol and Wayne’s support, I identified some critical flaws in the foundations of my dirst draft – skeletal back-story, unconvincing motivations – little things like that. Well, I’m learning, that’s all I can say. But I also came away with a workable plan for fixing things up – and that’s exciting.
In the end, I took a significant step forward, but realised too, that I was some distance from where I thought I was at the start. That’s what happens when you open yourself up to learning, to taking advice from people who have so much to give, and give it so generously. It’s an entirely good thing – it really is.