I was privileged to stay at La Muse Writer's and Artist's Retreat in Labastide Esparbairenque, France for two months or so, from mid-September to mid-November 2014. It was an amazing place. I will never be able to say enough nice things about it as long as I live, but I'll probably keep trying in any case. I left NJ, alone, afraid, heart-broken, depressed, totally lost, no idea who I was anymore, not having written much in years, burnt-out and a total, f-ing mess. When I left La Muse, I was sure of myself, alive, creative, loving life, confident, part of a community of writers, in great shape, renewed, whole, and finished writing a new science fiction novel (A Dancer in the Infinite). If you count the life changing decisions I've made in my life, going to La Muse was in the top three.
Here's the link to the place:
I cannot recommend La Muse highly enough to writers and artists who may be seeking a writer's retreat, or to those that aren't. La Muse is situated in the mountains, the Montagne Noire in southwest France, in ancient Languedoc, in a very tiny, medievel village two thirds up the mountain. It is immersed in a simpler way of living, a part of Nature, a renewing way of life. It is a place where writers can rediscover their Muse, their creative source. The normal retreat is for three weeks, though there were others like me, who stayed far longer. And while there I made friends with many other Musers. I met writers and artists from all over the English-speaking world: Irish poets, English technical writers, New Englanders who write Historical Fiction, Aussie novelists and travel writers, Canadian playwrights, world-traveling American writers (one who had almost finished circumnavigating the globe--like Magellan), California writers of great number and warmth, Irish playwrights, Californian artists, and of course, the wonderful hosts of La Muse, Kerry and John, who are among the finest people I have ever met.
I thought, I'd introduce some of my friends and fellow Musers, so you lot know who to keep your eyes on in the future.
I thought I'd start with the youngest Muser I met, Maddie. Maddie is a young (she might not be twenty yet), Aussie beauty with more talent than seems possible. She's a student at University in Melbourne. She is a talented writer of both prose and poetry, and a singer/songwriter. While I taught her how to play guitar at La Muse, she was already proficient at other stringed instruments. It was always such a pleasure walking down the ancient stone stair to the sounds of Maddie playing and singing in the dining room.
Here's a song she recently wrote and recorded:
More on La Muse and the Musers in future blog posts!