Midway through the month as some of you know I took off down to Tuscany to join Lisa Clifford's inaugural The Art of Writing Retreat. As I drove from Veneto in the north to the more arid and hilly middle Italy, I couldn't help thinking how many writers had been drawn to this bewitching area in search of inspiration. Florence. The Uffizzi. Siena. That arresting Tuscan accent. Lisa's family connections with the rolling hills of Casentino outside Florence made it an obvious choice for her event, and I must say I was glad to find myself in this quiet, forgotten area of a region that is so eyewateringly beautiful it can often be overrun by foreigners.
|Captivating morning views|
Now over to the writing. Soon after arrival I gave a talk about 'Blogging from the Heart: Grassroots Book Promotion' which grew into a engrossing debate - aided by a round of local white wine. I learned that each morning participants worked through exercises with gifted writer and teacher Jim Friel. I joined in and had a lot of fun and some crystalline ideas (for a moment there) and will write more about these on the Pelt and Other Stories blog. It was quite an eye-opener for this set-in-her-ways writer, who is not at all used to sharing work or ideas. I learned that opening the creative door a crack can release a brickload of ideas. A lovely way to shake down the house.
|Inspiring writerly talks|
Lisa's guests also included vibrant U.S. agent April Eberhardt, who in a Skype interview outlined an indie approach to publishing and gave participants ideas for entering the expanding world of self-publishing. Lawyer/writer Michelle Fabio spoke of storylines - Michelle writes the wise and successful blog Bleeding Espresso.
Over to food. One cannot report on a stay in Tuscany without mentioning local food and wine. Carpaccio di zucchini, wonderful summer salads, local specialities with potatoes - were all washed down with Montepulciano and enchanting wines. More often than not, grappa, limoncello and intriguing talk followed the meals.
|How many writers does it take...|
|to make fresh ricotta?|
Dee-lish!! That day we embarked upon The Art of Eating!
|With TAOW founder Lisa Clifford|
*If you are interested enquire early as I think places are filling fast