Write Away in Tuscany…Italy

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Finding a writing corner for one of the exercises

I was described last week by my niece as bold, because I set up a writing course where we live in beautiful Tuscany. I don’t feel bold – foolhardy maybe – but one of my mantras is “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
So, this time last week eight very different writers arrived to spend a week at il Mulino. They left this morning and I’m missing them. Yes, I’m tired – but I’m happy too. But just before they turned up, I had a little wobble: how would it all work out? Would they fit together as a group? I’d lured them all this way to Italy, from England and Switzerland, and the feeling of responsibility overwhelmed me. Reading the feedback so far, comments are predominantly positive: “Excellent value! Been like living in a film set. Such welcoming hosts and wonderful atmosphere…”; “The whole package of tuition/camaraderie/food etc. is what appealed to me…”.

 

There are definite improvements to be made and I thought I’d share a few points, because we hope to make this an annual event. (I have three enquiries already for next year). This year I joined in with the writers, so I could gauge the sessions for myself. I’ve attended a few writing courses in my time. Not all group dynamics will be the same, but here are some general tips gleaned over the past seven days.
Do break up the writing sessions into comfortable lengths (and provide comfortable chairs). We were so fortunate with the weather and all our classes were held outside. Students need to be happy physically as well as emotionally. Writing can stir up sensitive issues. Be aware.
Do have a course time table but be flexible and be prepared to alter. Make the restaurant meals and outings optional as people need their space and won’t always want to be in a “herd”.
Do make sure that all writers are included in discussions and tasks (if they want to participate). Ours was a mixed group with some writers having more experience than others. Our tutor, Sonja Price, was excellent at facilitating this and maintaining order. (She teaches in Germany… say no more.)
Don’t forget to have time to yourself each day. (This applies to everybody – time out is important). I was buzzing about cooking for everybody, trying to make sure everybody was happy, including our tutor. My darling husband was a star – driving up to the village for fresh bread, milk and fruit each morning; sorting out technicalities, lighting the barbecue, peeling spuds… I couldn’t have managed without him. There was one evening when I was so tired I told him I was never holding a writing course again, but after a good night’s sleep, I forgot my tantrum. Next time I shall hide myself away for at least one hour each day.

Don’t cook a spaghetti mountain… on the other hand, it’s better to over cater than allow students to starve. Prepare as much as you can in advance.

We definitely have tweaks to make and we’ll work on this. On the whole, I loved this week. It is life-affirming when you witness new talents emerge and feel confidence growing. To listen to nine very different takes on a single exercise and to be moved to tears (as I was) by some of the writing… and that’s good tears …  was wonderful. Sharing in life is what we should do, isn’t it? And there was plenty of that. And plenty of laughter. It was a fabulous group and I’ve gained new friends.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and watch this space for “Write Away in Tuscany” 2019. Same time of year, same place but with a slightly different format.

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About Angela Petch

Bit of a story dreamer, written two novels - a third in progress. I love my little family and in no particular order afterwards: Italian culture, food, wine, walking everywhere I can and especially in the Apennines, East Africa, tennis when I can, reading, reading and more reading. So much to discover still before I die.
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21 Responses to Write Away in Tuscany…Italy

  1. Patricia Feinberg Stoner says:

    Amusing typo: I meant part of this group.

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  2. Patricia Feinberg Stoner says:

    I felt very privileged to be pat of this first group. By hook or by crook Angela, you assembled a group of people who all got on well, respected each other and had a ball. I would add one ‘don”t to your list, though. Don’t stress, Angela! You and Maurice were more than the perfect hosts but I was worried that you had very little ‘me’ time during the week. That said, it was a wonderful week that Patrick and I enjoyed enormously, so mille grazie to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angela Petch says:

      Just seen this – apt typo – you and Patrick are both Pats! I loved having you both. Thanks for your advice about not stressing, but I feel a responsibility to get the course right, as people travelled some way to attend. I have some ideas for next year to improve on it. Happy writing. (p.s. I made a typo to Helen Christmas: I write it was a “goo” week – ??? missing off the “d”. Hey ho! See you soon!

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  3. Sounds lovely, Angela and I admit to feeling a bit jealous. I’d love to come next year if I can raise the finance. Setting, people, food, writing…. all looks wonderful! Well done.

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    • Angela Petch says:

      It was a goo week. There are a few tweaks to be made and the price will remain the same. Start saving a little each week! We’d love to have you here. (I already have three enquiries). Thanks for reading, Helen!

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  4. Great blog, Angela. I loved your daily updates. You were very brave but it sounds like it was a roaring success. Good luck with plans for 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Weather, food, writing, friends, it all seemed perfect and certainly looked effortless! Ha! Well done

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angela Petch says:

      Glad it seemed effortless, Jena. Put it this way – glad I don’t have to cook for eleven each day. But the whole week was a fabulous experience and everybody got something out of it. It will be fun to plan another one, with the benefit of wisdom. Thanks for reading. x

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  6. jessiecahalin says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post. Wonderful to get an insight into the course. Great idea to have a bespoke approach for all writers next year. Thr food looks amazing. I envisage a waiting list for next year. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jackie Baldwin says:

    How wonderful that you made all this happen, Angela! It seems to have been a resounding success. Well done and put your feet up!

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    • Angela Petch says:

      Thanks, Jackie. Believe me, today I HAVE relaxed. Spent two hours reading a book. Can’t remember when I last did that. Bliss! Thanks for commenting. x

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  8. audinsuisse says:

    Such lovely words, Angela. Feeling a bit emotional now that I’m home and ‘real life’ must continue. I feel so lucky to have been part of the week, and to have made such wonderful new friends. The work that you and Maurice put in was incredible and I feel privileged to have met you both. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Gill Kaye says:

    Fabulous! Well done Angela! I admire your vision and courage to bring it off. What a great team 🙂 xx

    On Tue, 18 Sep 2018 at 17:08, Angela Petch’s Blog wrote:

    > Angela Petch posted: ” Finding a writing corner for one of the exercises I > was described last week by my niece as bold, because I set up a writing > course where we live in beautiful Tuscany. I don’t feel bold – foolhardy > maybe – but one of my mantras is “nothing ventured, nothi” >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angela Petch says:

      Thanks, Gill! I can now settle down to complete “Mavis and Dot”. I’m talking to the designer now, but, unhappily, it won’t be ready or 20th. Never mind. Can’t do it all.

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