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Imagine living in an apartment in Paris. You’ll be learning the art of writing in the mornings from Australia’s best memoir writing mentor, Patti Miller. In the afternoon, you’ll explore the streets of this amazing city, soak up the Parisian atmosphere, people watch in the cafes, sample delicious French cuisine and check out gorgeous shops and attractions. Welcome to the Australian Writers’ Centre’s study tour, Memoir Writing in Paris.
Writing memoir in Paris – it is early autumn, the traditional season of memory and reflection, the light and leaves are golden, the cafes buzz with discussion – and your heart and mind sing with the richness of history, beauty and pleasure as you step out of your own apartment on the way to writing class.
Here is the city made for and by writers, revolutionaries, poets, philosophers, painters – the city of imagination, memory and art. Here indeed is the birthplace of modern memoir where the philosopher Rousseau wrote his autobiography, Confessions. Join us for this memoir intensive to immerse yourself in ideas, beauty and writing for 17 days in the city of light.
This is 17 days that could change your life.
A Writing Course
This writing sojourn is centred on a series of eight half-day classes with Australia’s leading teacher of memoir, Patti Miller. The classes run from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Thursday each week, the equivalent of two courses (12 weeks) at the Australian Writers’ Centre. This course offers a deep immersion in the ideas, techniques and practice of writing memoir and has been designed to extend and enrich all levels of experience.
Each day will follow a rhythmic pattern with classes in the morning, including a coffee break with treats from the local boulangerie. In class we will cover such topics as Beginning Again, Original Memory, Texture and Detail, the Narrator, Narrative Structure, the Difficulties of Truth Telling, Organising your Material, Structural Trouble-shooting, the Borderlands with Fiction, Travel Memoir, and many other writing issues. The course is shaped around the writing text, The Memoir Book, with a booklet of extra Readings provided.
Also included is a one-hour individual writing consultation with your writing guide, Patti Miller. During this time you can discuss your personal writing issues in depth without interruption. This is an invaluable opportunity to sort through and solve those writing blocks – and all in the unique ambience of a Parisian café. Then the afternoons are free for your own writing – or exploring the delights of Paris.
A Literary feast
Writing is enriched by the experience of a literary culture and so this sojourn also offers a range of literary experiences:
- A carefully selected and thought-provoking reading list will be provided well before your departure date to inspire you in exciting literary directions.
- A comprehensive lecture on French literature will be given before the writing course begins. You will be introduced not just to Zola and Balzac, but Colette and Duras and Houellebecq and many more.
- A literary ramble with notes will be prepared, so that you can wander the streets noting where Victor Hugo lived and where Jean Rhys recovered after a night in Montmartre and where Henry Miller found his inspiration.
- A literary ‘soirée’ at one of the English bookshops in Paris is on the schedule as it’s always a great way to have your finger on the writing pulse. You can listen to readings and ask questions of a leading contemporary writer in the intimate atmosphere of the Village Voice or Shakespeare’s bookshop.
- And, most importantly, our cafes and restaurants have been chosen for their literary and artistic significance as well as their fine food and wine. We can drink with Hemingway’s ghost or have coffee with Sartre and de Beauvoir or enjoy the company of hundreds of other memoirists, poets, novelists and playwrights who have made Paris their home over the centuries.
The Writer’s Life in Parisian Apartment
One of the most exciting and original aspects of this sojourn is that you will be living the writing life in an individual and authentic Parisian apartment, not in a tourist hotel. You will have the thrill of getting to know your own boulanger as you buy your croissants and baguette for breakfast, make your way to class in the morning along rues bustling with life, join new friends from class for lunch in a local café, visit the Pompidou Centre or the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay in the afternoon, and meet your fellow writers for a glass of wine at a writers’ haunt in the evening, then go on to dinner or a concert at the Opera or a jazz club – or return to your apartment and write!
We have selected a variety of apartments each within one of the fascinating arrondissements (localities) of central Paris. All will be within either a walk or easy Metro or bus ride of the class venue. Each one is privately owned so each varies in size and style, and has its own charm and appeal. Furnishings and equipment are of good quality and everything necessary is supplied including sheets and towels, which are changed once a week.
Each participant has their own door key to come and go as they please. The apartments will contain a welcome pack of basic food requirements when you arrive. While the Australian Writers’ Centre will try to oblige a preference for a locality, for logistical reasons we must reserve the right to allocate apartments.
There are three possible apartment arrangements (costs vary):
- Twin share – sharing an apartment and twin beds in one bedroom
- Share – sharing an apartment with your own bedroom
- Single – an apartment to yourself
Because the experience of living as a writer in Paris is the heart of this sojourn, we will give all the information you will need to be independent and confident in finding your way to class, using the Metro, doing your own food shopping – at exciting street markets, if you wish – and making your own discoveries of Paris.
We offer suggestions for interesting walks around Paris and how to find out what is on and where.
We also offer a choice between two optional tours – either an Insiders’ Walking Tour of a particular locality in Paris, or a trip to Chartres, a medieval town with one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe. You can decide on which tours, if either, you want to go on, when you are in Paris. We will also have some group meals – lunches and dinners – in specially chosen Belle Èpoque brasseries or restaurants.
Your Paris guides
Patti Miller is your tour director and writing teacher. She is the author of the best-selling Writing Your Life, the most popular text for life writing in Australia, as well as The Last One Who Remembers, Child, Whatever The Gods Do and The Memoir Book, the award-winning The Mind of a Thief, and her latest book, Ransacking Paris released in 2015.
She is published regularly in newspapers and magazines including essay pieces in the Good Weekend magazine (The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) and is available for speaking engagements to clubs and other groups. She has a BA (Communications) and MA (Writing) from UTS.
To find out more about Patti’s writing and teaching visit www.lifestories.com.au.
Martine Hamel is your tour manager. Martine is a born and bred Parisienne, but lived in the USA for a number of years. She speaks ﬂuent English as well as French, of course, and is experienced at welcoming visitors to her beloved city. She has worked in vacation rentals for many years and knows how to help you ﬁnd your feet in Paris. She also knows the history and culture of Paris intimately and has a great love and knowledge of English, French and Italian literature.
Former participant Pamela Bradley went to learn Writing in Paris with Patti Miller a few years ago. Last year, the journey she started in her Parisian apartment, culminated in the release of her book Nefertiti Street.
Patti has also helped 35 other writers turn their life stories into successful commercial books. These include: Jenny Kee’s A Big Life; Annarosa Berman’s Sex at Six O’Clock; Kate Shayler’s The Long Way Home and Caroline Jones’ An Authentic Life.
Please note: bookings paid by credit card will attract a small credit card processing fee.