Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Campsite Writing Workshops (near Vichy, France)

Telecommunications tower and surrounding summer fields,
Abrest / Le Vernet, France

(click image to enlarge)
Photo/Text © 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

Beginning Thursday evening, 26 July, I'll be leading regularly scheduled Creative Writing workshops in our campsite just outside of Vichy, France.

We've been staying in the campsite for just over a month now, having come here initially for an unanticipated overnight stay before continuing on our way to the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France. But having stopped over for the one night, we decided this would be an ideal place — given the amenities of the campsite, including electricity and wifi in our tent, and its proximity to Vichy, not to mention a super-clean swimming pool and a friendly family running the place — to catch up on some much-needed work.

At that point, we had already been on the road for more than five weeks, nearly two weeks of that time split between Lille, Paris and Fontainebleau. In the former two cities we CouchSurfed, while the one night in Fontainebleau was spent at a municipal campsite just as a gypsy jazz festival was getting underway.

And prior to taking the ferry between Dover and Dunkerque, we had spent nearly two weeks camping just outside Hay-on-Wye, Wales, where we took advantage of the imminent Hay literary festival to organize and run a couple of writing workshops at Richard Booth's Bookshop, perhaps the preeminent venue in all of Hay-on-Wye.

We also picked up some temporary restaurant work to help fund our travels. Mufidah and I both worked at The Granary, co-owned and -managed by two lovely sisters, Caroline and Jeanette, the former putting us up for several nights when our tent (since replaced) flooded after several days of persistent Welsh rain.

And I picked up a shift cooking in a then brand-new tapas bar, Tomatito's, which was fast gaining a superb reputation amongst locals and visitors alike. I spent most of the evening preparing orders of garlic mushrooms, chorizo and calamari, and washed, chopped and deep-fried bucketloads of potatoes for patatas bravas. It was a real treat to be asked on my one and only night to prepare some of my favorite tapas dishes. Ideally, I would have liked to have continued cooking there, but between our daily shifts at The Granary and organizing my creative writing workshops we already had our work cut out for us.

After being in Wales for nearly two weeks, spending a couple days back in Lewes and Brighton to knock out a final few tasks before heading to the Continent, staying with three back-to-back CouchSurfing hosts in France, and then overnighting in Fontainebleau, we had plenty of work — and rest! — to catch up on once we landed in Vichy. And it felt wonderful to fully unpack our car and get sorted in our tent for an extended stay here.

The month since our arrival in Vichy has absolutely flown by.

Although we had received the go-ahead to run writing workshops at our campsite very soon after arriving here, up until recently, most folk had been staying for between one and three nights, using it as a stopover point, either on their way to southern France, or on their way back north. But with schools now out for the summer, most visitors are staying on at the campsite for much longer, making an extended holiday of their time here.

So, we've decided the time is right to go ahead and organize these writing workshops, running them, at least initially, every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 7.30 to 9.00 p.m. (19.30 to 21.00). And as the workshops are run on a drop-in basis, participants can simply come along to the large marquee, located between Reception and the swimming pool.

If you'd like to join us ...

Please arrive just 2-3 minutes before 8.30 p.m., and bring along the €10 fee in cash, a notebook (or whatever you like to write in), and a couple of pens in case one gives up the ghost, mid-workshop. 
NOTE: The €10 fee represents between one-third and one-half off my regular workshop fees. I priced the workshops this low to offer a significant discount to my fellow campers.
As with all my writing workshops, these are designed for both beginners and experienced writers. And as there are no prerequisites, you can simply drop in for a workshop as often as you'd like, joining us throughout your stay in the campsite, or whenever you'd like to come along to write as part of a group of friendly, supportive folk in a relaxed setting. The more, the merrier.

So feel free to bring along a friend or two, your partner, or other family members. There's no strict age restriction so long as younger folk are able to fully participate alongside adults.

I'm also available, by appointment, for private one-to-one sessions should you like to work together on whatever you most need help with — whether that might be kickstarting a regular writing practice, overcoming writer's block, embarking upon, or bringing to fruition, a particular writing project, etc. If you'd like to discuss this possibility, please stop by Emplacement 24, about 100 yards southwest of the swimming pool. We're in the green Vango tent and drive a black '98 Fiat Punto with a large GB sticker on the back (though I'm American, with dual US/UK citizenship; Mufidah's half-Scot, half-Greek, but has spent much of her life in the South East of England, where I've also spent the past seven-plus years).

If you're not staying in the campsite but are in Vichy, or the surrounding area, and would like to book a one-to-one session, or help us to organize a writing workshop in Vichy itself, please send me a brief email.

1 comment:

  1. I spent some time this afternoon, tent-side, reading, editing and commenting on a short story written by a one-to-one writing client living in Australia. I'll be doing the same with a second, significantly longer, story which he's likewise sent me via email.

    If you'd like to work together on your writing — whether for possible publication, as a reflective (and inherently creative) personal practice, or anything in between — I'd love to hear from you.

    Just send me a brief email (see the righthand column of this webpage for a link containing my email address), and I'll get back with you ASAP.

    Thank you for your consideration.