I’ve just been lucky enough to spend a month writing in Scotland and was reminded all over again that libraries work for me as writing spaces. This one was particularly joyful though because it was attached to a conservatory where I could make the most of every drop of sun we got.
There’s something magical about browsing library shelves and pulling off JUST the book you need to read – most probably the one you weren’t looking for. Writers I discovered include Shelley A Leedahl, Ivy Alvarez, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Colette Inex, Carmen Bugan, Sarah Hymas, and those I rediscovered and won’t let go again include Lavinia Greenlaw, Isobel Dixon, John Burnside and Robert Hass. ANd that was just a selection. I’ve a notebook full of quotes, facts and books to search out for myself at home.
But probably one of the most useful exercises over the month involved repetition. Even in the rain (and there was lots) and the cold (I learnt I COULD write in gloves), I’d go and sit on this simple stone bench…
… and write just one page about what I could see and what I noticed. Obviously the view didn’t change but the notes I made were tremendously different each day. Part of that involved noticing how the weather impacted on the landscape physically in terms of the wind blowing grass and trees, shadows lengthening, light focusing on different parts of the garden, but also emotionally. It was like that old yoga exercise where you turn your head over one shoulder and back to the front. Turn to look behind again and back to the front. And then again. Each time you see a little more of what’s behind you. Every day I noticed a little more of what was around me. It’s something I’ve carried on doing since I’ve been home, although sadly not with this view.