How did you hear about PAA? What brought you here?
I left a political job in March of 2013 and was looking for an experience entirely different from anything I had ever done. I needed to hit the restart button and reassess my passions, what I really wanted out of life. Writing had always been a hobby, though I hadn’t done much since I left university. I googled “writing workshops in Europe” and the PAA Writing Workshop was one of the first search options. After perusing the website, I decided that this was exactly what I was looking for. I applied, sent my deposit, and was on a plane to Paris a few months later.
What’s been your favorite aspect or experience of the program this month?
By far, the strength of PAA and the writing workshop is the people they attract. I’ve made great friends through PAA for whom I will be eternally grateful. My writing has gotten better and I’ve learned so much, but it’s the people who make it a great place to spend the summer. I’ve made friends here that I’ve visited all over the world. I can’t imagine my life without their friendships. It’s a unique school that attracts incredible people, and getting to know some of them has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.
What was your favorite project or piece you created?
This year, I am working on a novel. Having a month to concentrate on it has allowed me to write more than I could have at home, without a doubt. Having the chance to get constructive feedback on it from my peers and professors only motivates me to keep working on it.
What was the most influential or helpful thing you learned from the faculty?
Writing is hard and takes a long time to get right. But reading and exploring the world will only make it stronger.
What advice would you give to someone coming to do the program?
Make the most of your month. Pull everything out of your professors, your peers, and Paris. You can sleep later. In the end, you’ll be happier going to the river for drinks with friends to discuss the craft of writing than going home to rest.
Favorite place to go in Paris?
Place de la Contrescarpe! Tons of cafes with great food and drinks, perfect for spending an afternoon writing. I also love walking along the Seine near Notre Dame.