Wander, Wonder, Write

Artist Residency: Casa Tagumerche

La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain.

I’ve spent most of my adult life in a chair behind a desk, but these past eight months I found myself adrift. I traveled from our atelier in Paris to the Swiss mountains, from the churches and canals of Italy to the Greek islands, and from the bike paths of Holland to the Moroccan souks.

Traveling has been great. I derived energy from the movement, inspiration from the sights. I learned to observe better and make more notes, enriching both my life and my writing. In the Sahara, one of the highlights of this year, I was able to let go of things I never even knew had held me back: habits, expectations, schedules, impatience. I surrendered to the dunes and their timelessness. The fine sand seemed to soak into my skin, or perhaps it was me soaking into the sand, disappearing.

After eight months on the road, however, I longed for a desk. I missed my solitude and long days of writing. I’d grown frustrated with my slowness in making bookings, finding accommodations, adapting plans to suddenly changed circumstances. I am, apparently, not the most decisive person. Uncertainties throw me off balance. So when my husband and I were accepted in Casa Tagumerche, an artist residency on the green island La Gomera, we took the boat, drove up the mountain, and stayed.

Casa Tagumerche is a special place. The house runs on solar power and is surrounded by a garden of palms, cacti, citrus trees, and herbs. There’s a pond in which koi splash and jump as though to greet you. The house also has the best views of the island. Each morning, I sat at my wooden table in front of the window to let the ocean inspire the story on my screen. The sight was never the same. Each evening, I met the others for a drink on the terrace, where the sunset prepared me for the night.

During the three weeks we spent on La Gomera, we experienced cloudy mornings, hot African midday sun, splatters of rain, warm evenings, and stormy winds. We witnessed a full moon, ate local bananas, felt our climb-sore muscles cramp, and drank plenty of Gomeran wine. We enjoyed long conversations about art, life, characters, plots, the ethics of eating octopi, witches, cyborgs, sunglasses, EU subventions, and the wickedness & ubiquitous of sound pollution.

Our wonderful host, Joachim, took great care of us. He cooked delicious dinners several times a week and ensured we could focus on our writing. And we did. My husband and I finished a publisher-ready draft of our second co-written book and made huge progress on two other projects. I wrote the epilogue for my new novel for adults!

I often wonder: How long can we keep traveling? Will we be able to write our books on the go, without having a home as a grounding base? I had my doubts at first, but after having spent such a productive time in Casa Tagumerche, I begin to believe that as long as we keep finding havens such as this one, we can write and also be forever on our way.

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