I have recently returned from my wonderful writing residency in Grez-sur-Loing, gifted to me in the lovely package that is a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship.
Grez and the ‘hotel’ were idyllic. Hôtel Chevillon , which once hosted writers and artists such as Strindberg, Carl Larsson and Stevenson, has been converted into writers’ and artists’ apartments and studios. Light. Beautiful. Elegant. French.
The jewel of the village, for me, I’ll admit, was the delicious boulangerie – less than a minute’s walk or skip from the front door. Monsieur Daniel, the baker, was delightful and his croissants and pains au chocolat and baguettes made me many a fine breakfast.
Of course, I was there to write. And write I did. Every morning I wrote down in the shade of the garden, by the river until the local teenagers sauntered along the bridge around two o’clock and took occupation of the opposite bank with their radios and chatter, both at a very polite volume. That was my signal for lunch. Early evening I would begin to write again in my apartment. The rhythm of these days just worked for me: I was able to inhabit my characters and their world. I need this, I think, to write a novel. Routine or rhythm is important. I have my ending now and the editing and revising is well under way. All good.
The other thing I loved about my retreat in Grez was the quiet sense of community. It was just there. Even though the days were often solitary, there was a sense of working alongside other writers and artists – all lovely people – who were all taken up in their own craft and imagination. There was writing and painting and sculpting in the air, somehow, and the feeling too that what we were doing, what we are doing, is valued. I felt like a writer in the proper doing sense.
Thank you Creative Scotland. My time in Grez was a gift. And I’m holding onto it.