There was so much I hadn’t expected from ‘A Writer Begins’ with Circle of Missé.
I didn’t expect this retreat to feel as if I was being welcomed as a house guest of the family, while simultaneously having the impression of a boutique hotel where every little need was anticipated. I didn’t expect a house where typical touches of French rustic charm are combined with elegant modern design and rooms of glorious proportions. I didn’t expect the flowers, arranged so generously to inhabit every corner: a pair of gerberas highlighting the mantelpiece; a cresent of sunflowers dipping over the stairs. I didn’t expect the cute kilner jar of homebaked biscuits to be hiding in plain sight in my room – so I didn’t notice them until the last day.
I didn’t expect that the ‘Loire chateau’ I was to visit would be filled with modern art installations, some beguiling, some less so, all challenging, and inspiring me to think I would write ‘something Kafkaesque’. I didn’t expect to stray from the commercial activity of a standard French market town to discover another chateau of glamorous and elegant proportions which in fact housed a state collège (middle school), nor the surprising beauty of wine glasses suspended across the street instead of bunting.
I didn’t expect to actually, really, properly stop thinking about everything else. I didn’t expect to have a rich seam of moments from my own life come rushing at me to surprise and inspire, just because of a simple prompt to notice details. I didn’t expect to feel so confident from start to finish. I didn’t expect to realise a couple of days after leaving that I had a more resolute sense of my ‘self’ than I had had in years.
I didn’t expect a moment of my life that would go so completely the way it was meant to. I didn’t expect to succeed.