Why Do A Writing Workshop In Spain?
In line with our ethos to foster writers and writing in the most interesting and pleasant places on Earth, the time is ripe to offer our world-famous and highly recommended travel writing workshops in Europe.
We’re kicking it off in Spain, the peninsula below the Pyrenees and above Africa, but not including Portugal. The land of, but not limited to, tapas and flamenco and fiestas and siestas.
Starting summer (northern hemisphere) 2019, we’ll be launching two cohorts of this mobile workshop, from June 24th to July 29th, and August 5th to September 1st. The plan is to roll from Barcelona to the Pyrenees, San Sebastian and the Basque Country, the red wine region of La Rioja, Madrid, a little bit of Andalusia, Valencia and everywhere in between. We’ll sleep in hostels and castles, by lakes and on two very distinct coasts. You’ll just be dipping your toes in Spain, but they’ll be the foot fingers that most visitors leave dry.
The standard of mentorship will be as high as you’d expect from a Global Hobo program, and like always the experience will be enriching and encouraging, as you hone your craft while being mentored by young and passionate industry professionals. We’re going to give you the bits that universities can leave out – the practicalities of working in the field, of pitching and being resolute in the face of rejection, of taking the angle less considered – and the workshops can most often count towards your university credit. We’ll also be getting you published, both here on GH and somewhere else.
But why Spain? Well, apart from porque no, here are is an incomplete list of reasons.
Spain is a fabulously inspiring place
Art and its creators have always sprung from and flocked to Spain. From Cervantes, with his Don Quixote, to Penelope Cruz, there has always been a strong artistic presence in Iberia. Artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali are but recent invocations of a tradition that goes back to Neolithic times, as evidenced by Cantabria’s Cave of Altamira and the 36,000-year-old paintings it keeps. Spain is the land of flamenco and its plaintive wails and evocative dances, popularised worldwide by Carmen Amaya; Ernest Hemingway came here to swill wine, arm wrestle and write; George Orwell spent time on the Catalan frontlines during the Spanish civil war. While traversing Spain you’ll feel, like all the fabulous artists before you, the inspiration overwhelm you. And then we will write. And then we will drink wine.
The Spanish rhythm of life is conducive to creativity
Late starts, long lunches, lots of chatting over the table. Afternoon siestas, evening strolls, hours spent on terraces discussing the ways of the world. In Spain, life is for living and access for all to good food and wine and even better conversations are inalienable rights – how else can you explain a modern, developed nation that still has three-hour lunch breaks to facilitate an organised national afternoon nap? Where literally zero stores are open on Sunday and where a glass of wine will cost you €1.50 – and a lot of the time they’ll give you a free plate of food to go with it? Forget the old trope about creativity being fostered by destitution and misery, when your belly is full and cramping from the grub and guffaws you’ll find the words flowing from your fingertips.
The land is diverse and full of surprises
If you’re coming to Spain expecting hot and sunny Mediterranean tourist traps and bullfights, you’ll certainly find them, but you’ll also find that they’re minority players in the Spanish experience. The Med accounts for around a third of Spain’s coastline, and hot and sunny is not the norm along the country’s Atlantic coastline; bullfighting is still a thing for elderly conservatives, much disliked by the young, absolutely outlawed in Catalunya and existing on the fringe as it’s on its way out in many other provinces.
The Spain that we’ll discover has 200 mountain peaks over 2000 metres high, where more than 16 distinct languages are spoken, including one that’s made up entirely of whistles and another that has its roots in Europe’s prehistory. We’ll bounce from bustling cosmopolitan centres to completely silent star-filled nights; from tourist traps to forests where bears and wolves continue to harrass shepherds. There is no shortage of surprises and changes in terrain to be found as we write our way across the country – every day will reveal an aspect of Spain that was previously completely unexpected.
You’ll feel comfortable around the gregarious locals
Spain is a country that has forever been beset by conquest and reconquest, civil wars and invasions. The result is a people who, despite their differences, live communally – a safety in numbers throwback – inhabiting on top of each other, living in apartment blocks despite the surplus of land around them, and who socialise in public spaces, with children playing in outdoor playgrounds while their parents watch on and take a drink from a nearby bar’s terrace. The Spanish experience is one that’s shared, and their sense of community means that even visitors are swept into the everyday goings on of the places we’ll explore. Expect to be swept into Spanish life wherever we go – when tables full of card playing men sling jokes at us that we can’t comprehend, kids will bump our tables making the cold beers wobble and grandmothers will insist that we eat more when every physical cue demands that we mustn’t.
The food and wine will fuck you up
There’s paella, but it really only comes from Valencia and has rabbit (brains!) and chicken in it. Tapas means “lids” and describes the snacks that are often given to you for free, on napkins that go on your beer while you’re not drinking it, to prevent the flies from entering. The south of Spain provides Europe with its fruit and vegetables and in the north, Ethicurean farmers let their flocks and herds roam. Wine districts are ubiquitous, varied and excellent. Ernest servers will tell you that the tuna salad is a vegetarian option in a country where asparagus and tomatoes can be world-class delicacies. We’ll try regional specialities like apple cider in the north and small fried fish in the south, blood sausage on the plateau and for some reason calamari sandwiches in the landlocked capital. Above all, we’ll rely on personal favourites from the supermarket to get us through our travels and writing sessions, like completely palatable €2 bottles of wine and €1 blocks of cheese.
Learn a language that you’ll use again and again
Whether it’s just knowing when to flip your marks upside down – ¡now! – or to give you confidence to give your mirth a cultural anchor, jajaja, Spanish is a language that’s eminently useful. You’ll use your Spanish when exploring, or simply understanding Dora’s hispanic interspersions – or at the very least you’ll be a well-travelled bore at the local tapas joint back home. Una cerveza mas, por favor. For this workshop we’ll be travelling with our Spanish teacher, enabling us to constantly improve on whatever our Spanish level may be.
Global Hobo’s Spanish writing workshops are available now, with limited release early bird prices. This is a completely unique, first-of-its-kind chance to explore one of the world’s most interesting countries and build on your travel writing skill set with industry professionals. If you wanna know more, click here.
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Ex-editor of Australia’s Surfing Life, current producer and host of 50 Fiestas, Barcelona resident and drinker of all the wine, every last drop of it.