Lisa Clifford, and the Art of Writing

It was a night out at the bookshop to learn some tricks of the trade from Lisa Clifford, so not a book presentation, but tips on how to improve your writing, for aspiring writers like myself.

The star of the show was Lisa a long term Florence resident, Aussie at heart, and more importantly author of  4 books. Lisa is a non fiction writer and I am drawn to storytellers, particularly fascinated by stories of times gone by, which explain so much about why Italy and Italians are like they are today.While Lisa’s book – The Promise tells of her years of indecision before moving to Florence to be with the love of her life, her next book Death in the Mountains, a murder mystery, evokes vivid descriptions and customs of a farming lifestyle now lost. So it was fun to hear her recount anecdotes of Tuscan life – where country women supplemented their income by wet nursing babes from the orphanage, or served up a rather gruesome meal to stop their kids from wetting the bed ( you’ll have to read the book to discover what that was!). Her more recent book Naples: A way of  love  has such an great cover that it teases you to be picked up.Lisa Clifford workshop

Last year I took the plunge to enrol in the Art of Writing Workshop which she had organised in the Tuscan hills near Florence, and was truly inspired by the tutors and the content. Creative writing workshops, in English, are not so easily found here in Italy and with a mix of locals and overseas visitors we had an intense and stimulating week. For a beginner like me it was a great experience , and while the book remains smouldering somewhere in the back of my brain, at least my conscience kicked in enough to have me start this blog. Jim Friel was my mentor, a hard task master, with a quick wit and cheeky grin that makes him endearing even when the pressure is on.

And it was not all work…..Lisa Clifford                       Porciano castle

Lisa with cheese maker Lorenzo




Exploring castles, old mills and savouring local cheese and salamis made a great break.Casentino castle

Old flour grinder







The Art of Writing workshops still have some free spaces, so in case anyone is interested more details can be found on the art of writing website

I still have a long way to go but will share one of my exercises of that week.

Strangers in the night.                               Night view CornigliaThe sea below glistened from the moonlight, spreading out slowly like a ripple as the clouds moved on to play hide and seek with the stars. The little villages stood out like islands, bathed in their colourful lights calling out to her to come and join the fun. She thought it was such a romantic time of day and sighed. Her thoughts wandered to the last time he had been with her here, and they had danced; swirling, twirling and entwined to the passionate beat of salsa. The stars had looked kindly on them then as they were madly in love and their gaiety had rung out across the water.

He sensed her despair and moved a little closer daring to think she may not push him away this time. He could feel the warmth of her body even from a distance and sense the yearning in her heart. He had had a hard day, in fact a hard few months where nothing had gone right. It was tough these days. Every day seemed a survival test and he was getting old and his body was slowly wearing out. After that fall the break had never healed properly so he even limped a little now. Still he glided slowly towards her, with hardly a whisper of a limp, so silently she didn’t even stir. He too wanted to be close to her. He dared again and took another step, and brushed her leg and their eyes met as she looked down to pat his head, and he no longer felt like a stray.