I host a course called ‘Writing From Life’, in both personal narrative and fiction that takes place every year, late spring/early summer, in the restorative wilds of the Cevennes Mountains of Southern France.
Gardoussel, the place where I hold the retreat is exceptional for its beauty and isolation. Beside a chrystal-clear river, close to a waterfall where we swim when we’re not writing, the old stone house is surrounded by walks through sweet chestnut forest and green oak. At this time of year, we often work outside in the morning sunshine, in a walled garden we call the Buddha garden, for the sleeping Buddha statue beneath the mulberry tree and in the evenings we sit and talk around the ‘chimenea’ (the outdoor woodburner).
We also work. Quite hard. And people are surprised, when they feel so rested, by the number of pages they have covered with ink. That’s because writing when you’re in a benevolent group, which for some reason it always is, is generally therapeutic.
Whether you’re poised for the opening line, or midway through your seventh draft, coming to Gardoussel for a week will untie the knots and help your work to flow more freely. It won’t banish self-doubt, which is a kind of ‘sleeping partner’ for all writers, always there however experienced you might be and however well-published.
For writers of all levels of experience, the ‘Writing from Life’ course is designed, through its morning workshops and late afternoon feedback sessions, to help you better access your material, explore new techniques and give you the kind of benign distance from your work that you will need to keep on writing.
What I never mention, but is very important, is that the food at Gardoussel is both healthy and exceptionally delicious.
‘If you’ve ever wondered if you can write a memoir, retreat for a week in Les Cevennes with Lucy. Enjoy the moments – serious, funny, emotional and warm – with an inspirational teacher. She started me on the next chapter of life, with ideas, techniques and prodding to dig deep, recapture those memories, write straight from the heart. With her encouragement, openness and honesty, writing is not something I think about, it is now part of who I am.’ (Jenny Cater)
“Taking a writing course with Lucy Wadham is like working with a professional writer who is also a good friend.” (Diana Manley)