Do you know when you come to a cross roads in life? You are faced with a choice, do you continue on the road you were on or do you take an entirely different path?
I tend to always take the road less travelled by and now I find myself in a place called Doëlan in the Finistère region of Brittany in France. If you could have witnessed the catch in my breath as I rounded the bend in the road and found myself in this glorious little fishing village, you would completely understand. It's the finest place ever more to tuck myself away in.
There is a narrow inlet of water, from which the land rises angularly on either side, into which atypical Breton houses are built, each commanding a stunning view of this fishing harbour. There is a left bank and a right bank and at the narrowest part of the inlet there is a bridge which spans both sides. Each bank has a lighthouse one green and white and the other red and white and it is altogether perfectly charming. Joy of joys it is practically untouched by tourism, there are no trinket shops for example, no peddlers, only one gastro pub on the right bank and a few restaurants on the left bank and a scattering of shops that sell everyday supplies, clothes etc.
In the afternoons the fishermen land their catch and one can wander down and buy fresh fish off the boat. Then you can take coffee outside in the mobile café and sit and listen to the jingle of sail ropes as the slap against masts and watch the world go by.
I wake at 6am, always have, blame my internal alarm clock. Then I set about making myself beautiful. This morning I had to find a lost earring because I forgot to take them out before I fell asleep. Isn’t it wonderful when that is all that constitutes excitement in one’s life of a day? The earrings in question are silver with a Celtic knot that reminds me of the Carrick knot and I wouldn’t want to lose them. Then I don myself in my writing clothes. What are writing clothes I hear you ask? That is a whole other story; here, let me give it to you.
In France everyone and the women especially are effortlessly chic. They are casual yet tailored, and vamped up with signature scarfs that sit elegantly about them and their shoes are always very soft and leather.
Now, I stand apart enough, with my wild Irish hair and freckles. A Druid Scribe on her own, armed with notebooks under her oxyter and pens that she retrieves from her hippy handbag. I was described once, erroneously, by a friend (who is still my friend) as; a studious librarian type with a slight bohemian twist.
The thing is, bohemian works in this part of the world, but, it has to be bohemian chic and ones accessories should be arty if that makes sense? So that is what I wear, comfortable, warm, bohemian chic. (Stuff I can lay the fire with, that will also portray me elegantly should I shop in the Boulangiere for a croque monsieur or some such delicacy.) Over which I throw on my Blarney Woollen Mills (in a hue of blue) wrap to keep my shoulders warm. That is the real writing uniform, I always wear something blue when I write, as it is the colour of truth and my muse demands truth.
Then I lay the fire, clean out the ashes if I have to because I like to do this before sundown when the ash might vex the fairies and we can’t be having that! Besides it is easier at the end of my day when I am prone to light it.
The weather is mild and though sometimes wet the house is solar heated, cosy and sheltered. I gave up on radio channels, there is just too much static being so near to the coast, and my French while passable, is not so good that I could endure a documentary or even a cheery DJ playing what I think to be Eurovision music in my sacred mornings.
There is no TV either and that suits me fine for I was never a lover of the box, so I listen to songs that a friend copied onto a memory stick and I am very impressed with his choices, it spans all genres and generations. Chalk that one up! At 8pm my croissants are delivered. J’Adore France! I toast them with butter and wash them down with Jus d’orange and 'just like that' I am all set for my working day.
I write into my journal first, fifty words of shite to start with, followed by insights and reflections and happenings, dreams too sometimes. Then I do my letters, I write three per day, for I am on half a mission to bring letter writing back. It will be very exciting for me when the first one is responded to, let us wait and see who earns that distinction. Then I bring my first cup of ‘pod’ coffee to my desk, which I will no longer buy once this batch is finished because they are so impossible to recycle, though the coffee is lovely. A cafetiere will do exactly the same thing and I can recycle that coffee onto the compost heap. Oh I love how so many French words are creeping into my lexicon. Then the laptop gets opened and I begin my word count.
Now every writer knows that the internet is a great tool but it can also be the enemy. It can distract you, disturb you, and cause you to lose whole tracts of time. It can be classed as the greatest detractor. So I am determined to only use it at the end of every day, for one hour with an amnesty on Sundays.
So I keep a list beside me of things I must research, emails I must send, deadlines I must meet and blogs I must write and every day once a day I send those off into the ether of the world wide web. I’m currently feeling all smug about my iron clad will power and delighting in how well that is working for me. (I will write a future blog about the power of your destiny being in your own hands.)
At 11.30am -ish I go for my walk. I always look forward to it, hail rain or shine, no such thing as bad weather for a walker, just bad gear. It is my excuse to escape the house. I amble down to the harbour, post my letters and walk the entire right bank, over the bridge and along the left bank. I sit and have coffee with my book and always read a chapter there.
Presently, I'm reading ‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ which is hauntingly beautiful prose, none of which is lost in the translation, by a Malaysian author called Tan Twan Eng. Then I retrace my steps and go back the way I came and make lunch. Sometimes it is homemade soup; more times it is just a sandwich, yesterday I had crackers and cheese.
One of the things I most notice about living alone is that it takes nearly a week to fill the dishwasher. It is fine if you have lots of utensils and delph and so economical. Après midi I set to writing again and don’t stop until I’ve finished my word count. Some days that takes longer than others, but I do not stop until I have reached it because it is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.
Then I have supper and do my mini edits and do my internet administration. When all of that is done I curl up on my very comfortable sofa and read until my eyes tire.
And there be it, a day in the life.