Granada. A feast for the senses. Our hotel boasts a view on the Al Hambra from our private room balconies, and a walk through its outer gardens to get into the city center. There, you can find Moroccan markets with a myriad of colorful lamps and the most delicious and fresh gazpacho.
Today, Heidi Pitlor taught her very practical and helpful class, “The Nuts and Bolts of Publishing.” We had some great discussions and gained some clarity on what editors are looking for and how to write a query letter. Then, we all went off on our own to write for a few hours before heading into town for a final delicious dinner. We all enjoyed discovering the ancient Roman road as well!
It was a relaxing Sunday for everyone, and since everything was closed in town (as is the Catholic custom in such European towns), we stayed at the hotel and concentrated on our writing, taking breaks in the pool. Rita Banerjee taught her class on Emotion & Suspense in Theater, Poetry and (Non)Fiction, and we all learned about Rasa theory. In the evening, we enjoyed listening to each other read our original work.
Early Saturday morning, we checked out and said adios to Barcelona. We took the high-speed bullet train to Narbonne, France, a charming canal city in the region of Languedoc Roussillon. In just a two hour commute through the beautiful Pyrenees mountains, we arrived in what was once a bustling ancient Roman city, on the trade route to Spain. In parts of the city, you can see the Roman via Domitia, the ancient cobblestone road carved out from several layers under the current roads.
We settled into our rooms at the Hotel Novotel Narbonne Sud and while some of us went for a swim in the pool, others enjoyed a nice walk into town, where we ate a delicious meal and discovered a beautiful cathedral. Some of us went to bed dreaming of the Horreum, an ancient network of subterranean tunnels and passageways that dates back to 1 B.C.
Today, we continued to admire the many wonders of the city. Some of us enjoyed visiting Parc Güell, the park designed by Gaudí as a feast for the senses. Others visited la Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s cathedral that started construction in 1882 and is still being built. They expect to finish within 15-20 years, so maybe some of us will plan to go back to see it! In the afternoon, Bret Anthony Johnston taught the second part of his Straight Outta Character Class, focusing on point of view this time. In the evening, we went out to dinner as a group to Teatro Principal on Las Ramblas and enjoyed our gazpacho while watching an amazing flamenco show. Tomorrow, we are off to France, so adios Barcelona. It’s been fun!
Today was a full academic day. We started off the day with Heidi Pitlor’s illuminating class “Surprise Me,” where we learned about how to create interesting twists and surprises in our writing. We also reflected on what editor’s look for and did an exercise wherein we created our ideal literary magazine. Then, we found ourselves exploring writing with vulnerability in Lily Hoang’s class on essays, The Self on Trial: or, an Experiment in Forms. (Setting flame to our secrets on the streets of Barcelona, anyone? shhh!) In the afternoon, we met one on one for our manuscript consultations in various corners of the Amister Art Hotel and really delved into the inner workings of our individual manuscripts. It was a very productive day, to say the least!
In the evening, a group of us enjoyed visiting Casa Batllo, one of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces of architecture. A mushroom fireplace for lovers’ trysts, complete with a bench for two, and a bench for a chaperone. Wonderland-like gardens and staircases that make you feel as though you are descending 1,000 leagues under the sea with Jules Verne. Walls that seem to be carved from tree trunks. A building that appears to have sprung organically from Mother Nature and hardened with icing and sweets. This is the magic of Gaudí.
Today, we enjoyed some free writing time in the morning after eating the breakfast of kings at our amazing hotel. Some of us took a dip in the rooftop pool, and others continued to explore the city. In the afternoon, Bret Anthony Johnston wowed everyone with his amazing class, Straight Outta Character: Plot. The class proved useful to all of us and gave us some great, practical tips for structuring our stories. In the evening, we shared an incredibly delicious meal at Thali Indian Restaurant. We shared a plethora of tasty, small dishes like chana masala, palak paneer, and butter chicken.
After a delicious breakfast, Diana Norma Szokolyai started off the day by teaching Spatial Poetics, where we discussed the works of Francis Ponge, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and several contemporary authors. We also looked at Jean Michel Verret’s murals and imagined what murals we would paint on the walls of the monuments of Barcelona. Then, Rita taught her class on Science: Fiction, where we discussed theories and effective methods of world building. The afternoon was spent writing and visiting the city in small groups or on our own. Some of us found a cute “bruncherie” called “Ugot,” where we had the most delicious cakes and teas, got silly with the pink flamingo wallpaper, and got some writing done.
Our writers arrived between yesterday and today, and we have all enjoyed settling into the Hotel Amister Art Hotel, which has original artwork all throughout the hotel to inspire our imaginations. Some of us have already spent some time strolling around and admiring the amazing architecture. After orientation, we enjoyed sharing some tapas and sangria while we talked about our favorite books and our own literary projects.