It all started with a tweet!
Last year, just after my flash fiction workshop in Vienna, I received a tweet asking me if I’d do something like that in France. Why not? I answered, and then what had started out as a bit of a joke became reality over the recent Whitsun weekend in a small town near the village of Marciac where I stayed with Dr Gugu, who did some culinary and cultural reconnoitring.
Marciac is known for its international jazz festival in July and August, the presumed birthplace nearby of the real-life D’Artagnan, its Armagnac and the local duck and goose-liver pate. I also found out that the scholar, Jean Laforgue, was born there. JL edited, and censored, Casanova’s writings, so there was also a link to issues writers are still facing today.
I spent all of Saturday and Sunday in the home of my tweeter together with five other Anglophone writers. The seven of us had lived all over: Australia, Africa, Europe, and we were all trying to explore new ways of playing with words, our words.
Flash fiction diehards will forgive me, I trust, if my workshop used the genre as a diving board into all sorts of writing. I’m grateful to the following whose tips and stories I used by way of examples: Natalie Goldberg (freewriting), Susan Tiberghien (Geneva workshops), Robert Olen Butler (yearning), John Gardner (exercise), Tim O’Brien (story), Tania Hershman (flash), Wayson Choy (diamond/rhinestones), Peter Carey (cantilevering), Timothy Findley (structure), Alex Keegan (write, write, write), Vanessa Gebbie (novel workshop), Emma Darwin (This Itch of Writing).
Yes, it was a bit all over the place, but we all had so many needs and were very open to cross-pollinating.
Needless to say, we were all exhausted, having spent two full 7-hour days locked together in writing, expats all, with that additional flavour of writing in English in a region not of our language. D’Artagnan, though, had been sighted atop a hillside, but so engrossed were we that none of us noticed him galloping by. All we found was a telltale feather, surely from his hat as he must have acknowledged our efforts with a flourish.
It was a wonderful writing weekend in Gascony with super food and company.
Thank you Hilary, Ruth, Jan, Jane, Sue and Rebecca!
I’m so looking forward to seeing what comes of it from us all.