I want to talk about creativity. It concerns one of the most asked questions of authors – where do you get your ideas from? I know it sounds like a cliché, but so many non-authors want to know how we can ‘come up with’ such devious, exciting and intricate plots for our novels.
And I think we all have a slightly different answer. “I get my best ideas when I’m in the shower / out walking / drunk on a Saturday night”; “some of my most well-received novels have been based on dreams / nightmares / the result of imbibing vast quantities of psychedelic drugs”; or the asinine “I don’t know, really – they just come to me when I’m sitting in my garden writing studio listening to the sounds of nature”.
Some of these may be true, but it’s not my version of truth.
Wonderful Swanwick – nearly 300 writers in beautiful surroundings, great food, and more writing input than almost any human can bear!
It was my third time there, and it has lost none of its magic. From crime to short stories, teaching methods to character psychology, and a fun-filled agenda of evening entertainment. What’s not to like?
We’ve got a new gig – at [ Wrabfest ], a one-day festival in a village near to us. It is a huge affair, offering foodstalls, a beer tent, and two stages with acoustic and electric bands throughout the afternoon and evening. There’s something for everyone!
Including, of course, The Big Write, where we work with children to help them create stories aided by Ten Tin Tales, Story Trays, Story Cards and other helpful exercises.
Oh my! It’s that time of year again – the time when I and the members of my writing group cast aside the shackles of normal life with its responsibilities and tedium, and head off for our writing retreat.
We spend the best part of four days together, writing, chatting, talking about writing, planning our writing, and generally relaxing in the luxurious surroundings of our own (temporary) manor house in the country!
A French-blue sky, blue as cobalt, azure-blue, blue as primula, as … the sky. Stretching from horizon to horizon. The sun, low and hazy, brings scant warmth, but its brightness bathes the land in defiance of incoming weather. A weather bomb, about to explode on our shores, bringing winds, rain, snow, and who knows what aftereffects. But for now, people are smiling, saying “good morning, lovely day.” Because it is.
And it was. An amazingly blue sky, without a cloud in sight.
Fresh sand and clay piles high on the beach as a mini-waterfall splashes onto the sand. A tiny ‘swoosh’, and a huge lump of cliff releases itself and crashes milliseconds later in front of me. This is coastal erosion in action. I move nearer the sea.
The sandstone cliffs near to us are eroding at a rate of around 1-2m per year. It costs too much to protect it, so we’re watching it disappear before our very eyes.
The brightness and blueness of the sky belies the coldness and numb-footedness as we walk along the beach, dog bouncing along in blessed freedom without the restraints of a collar. She doesn’t feel the cold.
We walked along the beach, which made the dog happy.
The town beings to wake. A car creeps along slowly, as if unwilling to disturb the resident still hiding behind their curtains and blinds. Pedestrians, scarves wrapped around faces, their heads bowed as in reverent prayer. But their destination is not the church which, for the moment, has its doors closed, but the supermarket. Which has its doors very much open.
Cars file in. Seagulls swirl and swoop overhead, as people divest themselves of their unwanted stuff. I have some ‘difficult’ items, but find places for them to go. I listen for the shout of protest as the wrong sack gets emptied into the right bin, or vice versa. It’s anarchy on a very, very small scale. But there are no shouts of protest – the Guardians of the Recycling are inside their lair, refusing to come out into the cold.