(picture: Storm Grant in San Miguel, February 2011. Notice I’m leaning away from the rooftop edge with no railing. That’s a four-storey drop to the cobblestones below.)
Up in the mountains of Central Mexico, about a three-hour shuttle ride from Mexico City’s international airport, lies a writer’s paradise. Let me re-phrase that—lies an older* writer’s paradise. Indeed, it’s heaven for any older person who’s interested in art, music, literature, hiking, riding, or a spiritual retreat.
Every year, people flock there to escape winter, and to live an intellectual lifestyle for a week, a month, the entire winter. Many people move there permanently, although real estate isn’t as cheap as it once was. It’s called “Gringo culture” and it meshes well with local culture and brings in welcome tourist dollars.
Each week, everyone grabs a copy of L’Attencion, the local newspaper. It features a chronological list of all the activities, gallery openings, art classes offered, etc. We take a red pen to our copy and then compare notes: “I’m going to the Jazz documentary on Friday. Shall we go to the gallery opening before hand?”
It’s a friendly place, with a central square that I call “hanging out in the caf for the senior set.” I like San Miguel because it’s so easy to meet people, and it gives me so much to do. Oh, sure, there are all kinds of activities here in Toronto, but this is different. This is something to do every day.
I always time my visits to allow me to attend the annual San Miguel Writer’s Conference. http://sanmiguelwritersconference2012.org/ In addition to excellent panels and workshops given by locals, they get great speakers. After all, who doesn’t want to go to Mexico in February? The keynote addresses are open to the public, so Barbara Kingsolver was hugely attended last year. This year, it’s Margaret Atwood.
But the big draw for me is that none of the attendees are professionals. “Huh?” you say? Yup. It’s attended by retired professionals who think they might have a book in them, and it’s almost always a memoir. So they have no idea how the publishing industry works or any interest in writing or publishing commercial fiction. What does that mean to me? That the big name agents and editors are left sit in the hotel lobby all by themselves. I’ve spent quality time with several agents, including former agent Nathan Bransford, Kirsten Nelsen, and Rosemary Stimola of Hunger Games success.
You get to know a person when you hang with them, and sometimes the person who was at the top of your “dream agent” list gets kicked off entirely. And sometimes you just click.
I understand the mountains surrounding SMA have mystical properties making them a sought-after spiritual retreat. There’s also a world-class riding school.
Don’t look for bars and parties (okay, Harry’s is hopping every night of the week). We’re a day’s journey from the closest beach. The weather is unpredictable (but still way better than Toronto in February.) But if you’re looking for a writer’s paradise, c’mon down.
Also, an excellent 3-course steak dinner is around $10, and a large, fully-equipped (but very run down) apartment is around $250 a week.
For more information on my writer’s paradise, click here: http://www.internetsanmiguel.com/
*I define “older” as 40 and up.
Speaking of online hangouts, where are yours? Where can your readers find you?
Author Name: Gina Grant w/a Storm Grant
Email address: email@example.com
Website URL: www.stormgrant.com
Blog URL: http://storm-grant.livejournal.com/
Goodreads Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2836549.Storm_Grant
What’s your current book list and where can we buy them?
Be Prepared, short m/m erotic piece in the charitable anthology Coming Together: with Pride from Phaze Books