Cats and feathers in Auvillar

I was sitting in the ancient market square in Auvillar, taking a few quiet moments alone to think about my story, what I was learning. And down the street came scampering the most adorable little black cat.

Her owner, sitting on the step in front of the hotel where the cat lives,
said her name is Lulabelle.

Lulabelle was chasing a leaf, but took a detour and stopped to sit at my feet for a little ear scratch. I'd been away from my cats for 10 days, and little Lulabelle made me miss them. We played and petted and talked pidgin French and laughed, Lulabelle's owner joining in.

And then a tiny white feather floated down from the sky
and landed on Lulabelle's tail.

Oh, feathers, feathers, feathers.


And back to France she went

It's been quite a summer. My arts year. My year of following my bliss. First there was the Minnesota State Arts Board grant to go to Ireland to study traditional harp music, then the acceptance into the Writing en Plein Air course in Auvillar, France, with Jamie Cat Callan.

Writing? you ask. Yes. Writing. While I'm best known for my harp music, I'm also a professional writer. I have a B.A. degree in English with a concentration in writing and Mass Communications. I've been an advertising copywriter at my day job for more than 15 years. I write blogs for product lines, email and web copy, direct mail catalog and product copy, and print advertisement copy. My advertising writing has appeared in major publications like Modern Bride and Martha Stewart Weddings. I've also written as a freelancer for local organizations and Minnesota State University, Mankato, publications.

But I write for myself, too. This blog, for example. And also poetry, non-fiction essays, and now, memoir. Which is what I wanted to work on in the writing workshop in France. A story has been brewing for a year now. A big one. I'm ready to write it. And write I did in France...

I wrote with the rest of my ultra-talented and inspiring classmates.
(Water for refreshment and toilet paper to wipe tears 
— we were all criers.)

I wrote alone under a tree on the grounds of a chateau.

I wrote on the balcony of my adorable little hotel room,
late into the mild Southern France night.

I wrote in quiet alleys in medieval villages.

I wrote in a vineyard (and yes, I drank a little wine, too).

I wrote in the 400-year-old restored Moulin a Nef in Auvillar,
which housed our studio.

I wrote about blue.

I wrote about chocolate. 
(This was dinner one night. Bad Amy.)

And then I donned a dress (with detachable armwarmers)
that I bought in a tiny village not far from Auvillar
and read what I'd been writing all week.

I adored Jamie Cat Callan's teaching method. So supportive, so insightful, so inspiring. She's so sharp, so smart and such a wonder, and I took volumes of notes and kept all of her comments on my writing.

Since I was in France, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend a few days in Paris, retracing my steps from last year and revisiting some emotional places. Taking lots of notes. Taking lots of research pictures. (Big surprise: the story I'm working on has to do with my Paris experiences last year!)

I spent hours in Notre Dame...

in the Cluny Museum communing with
the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries...

(doesn't the unicorn remind you of Harry the Cat?)

and following my favorite street: Street of the Harp
(there's a great creperie just down from here...mmm...).

It's going to be a busy winter. I have my holiday concert on November 27th, and all the December harp events that I love, PLUS I'll be writing. Writing and writing and writing. I'm a little shy about sharing details of my story project, but maybe as it all forms and flows, I'll overcome my shyness and take you on part of the journey with me.