Thursday, 17 June 2010
Two photos today! One is the view from my house. Isn't it wonderful? Sometimes in the far field you can watch polo ponies being trained. When you stand outside often you can hear nothing but the birds and the leaves being blown in the trees. I can't imagine living surrounded by noise now. I have got too used to the quietness. The other photo is of a rose that my sister Jacky gave me, along with my other sisters, to remember our Mother by. As you can see it is out in bloom now and looking stunning. My Mother would have loved it.
But I can hear you ask what has this to do with PhDs and writing. Easy, they are both sources of inspiration to me. I love the sense of freedom the view provides me with and the intensity of the perfume and colour of the rose. I have just listened to Michael Morpurgo who did a live event via The Scottish Book Trust. He spoke about inspiration and was explaining how he lives on a farm and it is not the animals that are necessarily the inspiration instead it is the interaction between humans and animals. He was also taking about how he got inspiration from everywhere. He said to go to lots of places, asks lots of questions and you never know when one of those moments will come back as a bit of inspiration. It started me thinking about what can inspire me. And I realised it is a huge list, it can be: music, art, a place, a smell, a person, a phrase, silence, noise...the list is in fact endless.
As I may have mentioned (a few times) I am off to Normandy at the end of the month for a few days. This is so I can experience it and then bring that experience to my writing. The majority of my story (my PhD novel) takes place in France and I wanted to feel the place, smell it, live it. Whether it is walking along a French street or looking at a war cemetery, it will all have its place in my novel. The visit will help me with the nuances that you can add to your description that help the story come alive. I know there is an urban myth about someone who won a prize for a book they had written about a country they had never been to. But I am not sure I could write a whole book like that. I know you can get a sense of a place by looking on the Internet, even via google maps but you are only going to get a representation (back there again too, sorry), a digital interpretation for you to interpret. I also acknowledge there are places that you may want to write about but it is not possible or sensible to visit. I am not dismissing that form of research as it all has its place and there is a part of my novel which I am reliant on the Internet/TV and books for my sense of place, but if you have the opportunity to visit then I think you should.