A different kind of story

My experience of storytelling for adults had thus far been limited to Geoff Mead’s inspiring folk tales, which I blogged about here. During the summer I attended a different style of event by Leo Sofer. He is an intuitive storyteller, and creates an atmosphere within the group before telling an unplanned story accompanied  by traditional folk instruments. A one-man band of a unique kind. It was quite extraordinary, with the narrative deftly layered and resolved for the listener. It kind of reminded me of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas in structure, and I certainly took something from both his story and method. For a taster of Leo in action, head over to his story website, where there is a downloadable tale for you to enjoy.

A workshop to inspire

ArtsFest week in Lyme Regis, and a new event for this year was the Writing for Publication workshop. Run by author and journalist Maria McCarthy, it was packed with interesting info. The venue: Hix Oyster and Fish House, with plenty of coffee, teas and breakfast goodies. Maria herself was very engaging: full of positive energy as she generously shared her experiences in the journalism and author spheres, with wide-ranging tips on resources, pitches, agent approaches and a whole lot more. Take a look at her website here. I came away energised, which is such a great feeling. Especially as I enter the next phase of my writing process.

A few notes I’ve made as a result of the welcome boost:

– keep writing what I want to write

– enter more competitions

– find time to pitch

– create a Facebook page (actually do it)

– start tweeting (kind people have said they will follow me)

Remember Paris?

I did. It was more than ten years since my last visit, but I did. And a two-night stopover at the end of the summer – sans enfants – meant quality time together as well as quality time thinking literary thoughts. It’s hard not to feel creative when staying in the gorgeous and highly individual Hotel des Academies et des Arts, just off Rue Montparnasse:

with a textured wallpaper  …

a sumptuous tea room …

and, art …

It was a five-minute stroll to La Closerie de Lilas, where Hemingway once did a lot of writing. The terrace felt like our own kind of secret garden, with its container hedge shielding us from the busy road and passers-by.

A relaxed long promenade along Boulevard Raspail took us to Boulevard Saint-Germain. Time to see the beautiful people at Les Deux Magots, before settling next door in Café de Flore for some people-watching over a pot of Darjeeling and a large slice of tarte maison.

Parisian architecture never fails to seduce me: the height of buildings and their sandy hue, with the ordered wrought iron juliet balconies or symmetrical shutters. It was calming, and I felt at home.

We kept on strolling over the river to the Louvre. The most arresting exhibits of the day for me were Le Déluge by Nicolas Poussin, and the Venus de Milo sculpture.

After a little of this …

… onwards, to the famous Dehillerin cookshop, with its utilitarian displays, a modus operandi steeped in tradition, and charming as a whole.

A browse round the Shakespeare & Company bookshop was another treat. A mix of commercial fiction and gorgeous literary pamphlets, alongside a secondary shop selling true first editions.

For a soothing and tranquil inspiration, the Montparnasse Cemetery was the perfect venue for a poignant stroll on the morning of our departure, giving us plenty of food for thought, as well as feeding the writing soul.

Back home, as the nights draw in I will savour that 36 hours in Paris. I’ve no doubt that new story seeds will form in the wake of the inspiration I took, while current work will also feel the benefit of a little Parisian nourishment.