Claire King

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Posts Tagged ‘Canal du Midi’

A writing retreat with the whole family?

Posted on: June 26th, 2012 by Claire - 15 Comments

Jung

Our travelling companion  – Jung.

So, I’ve been working away from home a lot for the first six months of this year. It’s my job, it’s a good job, maybe one day it will give way to actual income from writing but for now that’s how it is.

Summer, though, is about spending lots of time with my family. That’s the payback. And summer is here and we are all very happy about that. We never go away on holiday, because summers here are very smashing, so we do things in the region instead: visit places, have day-trips, that kind of thing.

But…summer is also the time when I can really get into the zone with writing. And this year that means editing the manuscript of my second novel which I want to have with my agent by autumn.

(Update 2016 – I did NOT have it with her by autumn 2012, it took a further TWO YEARS) 

The Canal du Midi and a houseboat upon it feature prominently in this novel, and whilst I had done plenty of research I had not actually set foot on a houseboat in over 20 years. And never one in the south of France. I was missing something – the smells, the textures, the sounds, the sensations, the peculiarities that an author needs to know about if you are really to transport someone into that world.

So, somehow I had to combine my need to get myself away onto a canal boat for a couple of days (and be inspired and make notes) with my need to spend time with my family (and just having them in proximity while my husband babysits doesn’t count)…

I needed to organise a writing retreat with the whole family.

Cue the Magical Mystery Surprise Family Weekend Away.

List of things required:

  • Internet to find suitable boat owner willing to accommodate leggy, exuberant family of four.
  • Own chequebook and email account for secret booking of smashing weekend on the canal.
  • Teasing build up to surprise trip, including maddening hints and knowing smiles.
  • Something for everyone to do:
  • Claire – Pencil, Paper, 5 senses.
  • Husband – Camera.
  • Small daughters – pencils, paper, puzzle books, reading books, travel board games (draughts, chess, back-gammon, cards etc)

And off we go.

It was brilliant! We had an absolutely wonderful and relaxing weekend, taking the boat down the Midi and onto the étangs (salt-water lakes) of the Mediterranean where we moored in a little port for the night, and back again. We spent much more time with the children than we would on a normal weekend, and yet I got much more writing done too. Our hosts were friendly and laid on wonderful food and good conversation. We all came home inspired, zen and somehow exhausted. I declare a success!

What are you writing about now, and how do you fit in research with your other commitments?

Want to see our photo album?

canal

5km an hour is fast enough. You have to imagine the cicadas and the smell of the pine.


window

Yes, I am writing.

Like_mother_like_daughter

Like mother, like daughter.

Lock

Fresh water on one side, salty water on the other!

Etang

Arriving at the étangs.

Aperitif

Moored in a port for the night, playing hangman and drinking aperitifs on deck.

Oysterbeds

15km of oyster beds on the étangs.

Clouds-drift-by

Nothing to see here.

Beatrix

Captain Jean-François allowing a 4 year old to take the wheel.

CaptainAmelie

And the 6 year old!

(In fact, the forty-somethings also got to drive, but we’re not quite so picturesque)…

Mister

Thanks to the photographer!

Note: If you’ve come across these photos through a search and would like to use any of them, please ask us via the contact page. Thanks.

 

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