Remembering Villeferry

Villeferry is the name of the tiny village where we had our writing retreat last week. L’Atelier Writers is the brainchild of writers Michelle Bailat-Jones, Laura McCune-Poplin and Sara Johnson Allen, who did their MFA together in the US ten years ago. Now all of them are busy working mothers as well as writers, so they know just how difficult it is to find the right physical and mental space to dedicate yourself to writing, especially long forms of writing such as novels. They found a quiet place in the Bourgogne, a grouping of restored village houses set on a slope, and offer the perfect mix of quirkiness, tranquility, emotional support and bookish discussion.

We had mornings and afternoons dedicated to the lonely pursuit of word count and polishing of drafts, lively lunchtime discussions of craft and goal-setting, plus readings and literary parlour games in the evening. I rediscovered the joy of writing and of community. It was just what I needed at this difficult period of transition in my life and has made me more determined than ever.

I am tempted to keep it all a secret, so that it maintains its cosy, intimate feel in years to come. Here are some pictures to show you what ‘appalling’ conditions I had to work in…

Our lounge for evening readings
Our lounge for evening readings
The golden bridge to more books above the lounge
The golden bridge to more books above the lounge
Lots of space to work outside in the orchard
Lots of space to work outside in the orchard
Dining room and coffee area, more to delight booklovers...
Dining room and coffee area, more to delight booklovers…
Breakfast terrace, one of the few spots with WiFi access.
Breakfast terrace, one of the few spots with WiFi access.
Inside the breakfast room
Inside the breakfast room
Gentle landscape filled with Charolais cows
Gentle landscape filled with Charolais cows (not visible in this picture)
My magical Sleeping Beauty (Writing Average-Looker) Room.
My magical Sleeping Beauty (Writing Average-Looker) Room.
A Room of One's Own
A Room of One’s Own
View from my window
View from my window
Lots of these visitors, a falsh of white bobtail making me want to shout 'Peter Rabbit' after them
Lots of these visitors, a flash of white bobtail making me want to shout ‘Peter Rabbit’ after them
One last view of our reading and discussion room, with magnificent terrace and books to suit every taste (in all languages)
One last view of our reading and discussion room, with magnificent terrace and books to suit every taste (in all languages)
Couldn't resist the obvious metaphor: this opened doors in my mind
Couldn’t resist the obvious metaphor: this opened doors in my mind