It’s a mere 5 months since I wrote Recreating Missé – Part One, and I’m sure both of you who read it have been on tenterhooks…or more likely you dismissed me as a two-post wonder and moved on.
When I wrote that post, full of inspiration and plans, I knew nevertheless that it was about to get very difficult for me to devote myself to riding that wave of success. But I had to be sure that, no matter the distractions of the months to come, I would return to the focus my time at Missé had given me. So those two little words, part one, were symbolic of an important decision to come back and finish the job…
My birthday this year was when I realised that MT* really knows me better than I know myself. He knew that what he really wanted to give me, that what I would value most, was time. But he understood better than me how that time should be used. I was overwhelmed when he told me he wanted to organise a residential writing course, and take time off work to let me do it. For all the chat I’d given him about my big idea, it hadn’t occurred to me for a moment to devote that kind of time, money and especially someone else’s time to make it happen. But he took me seriously enough that it occurred to him. He found Circle of Missé and booked their perfect-seeming ‘A Writer Begins’ course. Best. Present. Ever.
Allow me to try and stop talking about myself and recreate for you what will forever be one of my happy places.
Our course took place not in the house in Missé, which was under renovation, but in Moncontour, another village nearby where Wayne and Aaron had recreated the Missé experience, to stunning effect, as the house was both welcoming home and boutique hotel.
The house was utterly relaxing, but also beautifully styled. One of my favourite details was the arrangements of individual blooms dotted around the house – so much more fun and generous than a grand bouquet filling one corner. Each space in the house was so generously proportioned, giving room to breathe in every way. Everything had been carefully considered to make life here as easy as possible, including a dedicated, well-stocked corner for making coffee or grabbing a snack without having to disturb the kitchen.
The bedrooms were also our writing spaces and thoughtfully arranged as such.
Aside from the bed, a chaise-longue and a walk-in cupboard that meant suitcase and clutter could be hidden away, there was simply the desk, with another single bloom, waiting for the writing to happen. Otherwise…space. I took this photo as I woke up there for the first time, and set about making the notes for my first piece of ‘homework’, where I was to describe what I saw:
Nothing but a sense of space. Early morning light infuses through the almost-white curtains and creates a calm serene grey in the room. The grey tones bring stillness and calm, and seem more of a blank slate than pure white would be. The ordered, repetitive woven pattern on the putty-grey duvet cover…the serene blue-grey of the walls…the sliver of outside just seen reflected in the mirror through the gap in the curtain. The desk is centred between two expanses of almost-white light and fabric, the chair pulled out, ready to take me in to write. This room has a tangible ‘nothing-else-ness’.
Add to this a huge expanse of meadowy garden, a peaceful village and this dog, so comfortably wearing her heart on her fur, who could claim credit for turning me if I ever became a dog person, and it really didn’t matter what happened next, here, I felt liberated and at ease.
What happened next was pages and pages of notes and writing and ideas…and confidence. Throughout the five days, Wayne helped us shed stifling thoughts about creativity, offering instead prompts, cajoling and just the right level of challenge to allow us to fulfil whatever potential was there. The course was designed to spark a wide range of creative ideas, and to focus on the skills that would best express them. From a simple walk in the village, through interesting texts and extracts, to a confronting modern art gallery, we encountered a range of sources of inspiration that would jolt surprising ideas out of us. Missé gave me an overwhelming sense of possibility, an exhilarating confidence, and several pieces of work – finished, in progress, starters – that made me pretty damn proud of myself.
I could start to describe the home-cooked, locally sourced, mostly organic food we were served every night in the garden, the organic (hangover-minimising!) wine that flowed so generously, the long-into-the-evening languorous post-reading chats, and just the pervasive generosity of our hosts in sharing their skills, their home, their lives, themselves and even their friends with us, who really never felt like customers or even guests, but were ourselves friends, at least for a week. But I won’t, because I really don’t want this blog to be one of those gushy, everything-is-awesome corners of the internet, and, where Missé is concerned, it’s hard to avoid hyperbole.
*The epithet ‘Mr Nester’ has been rejected as quirky-blogger’s-name-for-husband. Also vetoed are Better Half (although he is), Toryboy (yes, like Lucy Mangan we have a mixed marriage) and Dunderheid (rejected by me, because he’s not). So for now we’re sticking with MT, which of course stands for…Meal Ticket…maybe…