In late July I set off with my husband and dog for our large, very old house in a remote part of France for a long summer break. As Mr E had to get back to London in August for work, I had two weeks there with only the dog for company, and hoped to get some writing done.
The house has no TV, one old-fashioned radio that can pick up very few stations due to the mountains, and the satellite wifi connection is expensive, data hungry and difficult to set up temporarily. Also the village is tiny, I only know a handful of people there and my French is a work in progress. So conditions were perfect for plunging into my fourth novel.
I had few distractions apart from the books on my kindle and the mountains. For the first time, I also took the dog on many arduous mountain treks. He loved it – I had to drag him away from some high places with views that we stopped at, he was spellbound! Though I had to entice him up a few steep bits with pieces of sausage.
How did it go? Well, I managed to (mostly) stay off social media, not spending much time on my phone apart from taking photos, writing a synopsis using the Notes app and once a day checking out the BBC news app (no videos to cut down data usage).
The solitude, the tranquillity, the beauty of my surroundings all began to work their magic. I felt the characters coming to life, and the story started writing itself without much help from me…
My aim had been to get the novel well underway, which I did, though unfortunately my laptop keyboard had too many sticking keys so I decoded to write in longhand on graph paper. But that meant I was forced to keep going forwards and not edit too much, and also I could write in the garden 🙂
Yes, I sometimes felt lonely and I did miss not knowing what was happening in the UK (not the Brexit news). At times it was tempting to check out Facebook and Instagram, and peek at Twitter. The dog was good company though, and I tried to do yoga regularly to stay relaxed and keep on an even keel. All the rooms have windows facing the mountains; I set up my yoga mat in the living area looking out onto my favourite peak.
I wouldn’t like to live like this all the time, but it was marvellously refreshing to be cut off from the world and all my usual routines, and to focus fully on writing. Getting away from it all is a must for me as it is for many creative people. I have a feeling I’ll be doing more of this in years to come – I might even start a writing retreat here, who knows.
Before I go, a bit of news. My debut novel BLIND SIDE has been included in a recently published US list: British Thrillers That Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat. It’s no. 3, and there’s even a short video if you check out the link. I didn’t know quite what to make of this at first, but it seems like a cool thing to be on.
4 thoughts on “Banishing news, TV and social media to write”
Lovely post. I too have lived alone in the French countryside for periods of time – now I know the neighbours too well so I would have company – but yes, for a wee while with a definite end date it’s pretty nice I think. I didn’t have a dog but I had two cats – which was why i was there instead of UK – days of quarantine and that. A nice read and the idea of making it a writing retreat sounds great – trouble is then there would be people there!!! 🙂
Animal company of any kind makes a big difference I think – and knowing the neighbours! The previous time I was there on my own it was just me and it felt slightly oppressive at times, esp. as the clouds settled down all week. A few people to share the place could be quite fun – hopefully! I’d have to get a sofabed or two tho
Thanks Jenny, enjoyed reading it and the pics including you-know-who. I would like to transport them to Fcbk to go with The 9 British thrillers, I have already posted and mentioned you but it doesn’t seem possible. Never mind, so glad things went well and the idea of writing groups happening there one day sounds a good idea. Much love from Miranda
On Fri, 6 Sep 2019 at 12:07, Jennie Ensor’s Author Website wrote:
> Jennie Ensor posted: ” In late July I set off with my husband and dog for > our large, very old house in a remote part of France for a long summer > break. As Mr E had to get back to London in August for work, I had two > weeks there with only the dog for company, and hoped to get s” >
Lovely to hear from you Miranda! Yes, I can picture a bunch of writers at the long table of an evening, or sitting around the garden in the afternoons 😊