Saturday, 7 June 2014

Back to the Well of Inspiration


How many times have you promised yourself you'll get up especially early, just for the pleasure of writing? Or perhaps you've thought about getting inspired again, by taking your journal out with you to somewhere new?

I think I'm easily influenced. While speaking to a friend at work, I listened in awe as she described a stroll through the valley not so long after dawn. She concluded her tale with the words: "That set me up for the whole day." Later, while listening to the weather report at home, I noted that the sunrise was at 05.07 and mentioned it to Anne. "If you're planning on going out early, good luck with that," she said.

Be careful what you wish for. The third time I awoke the next morning the house was as still as my ebook sales. It had to be around 06.30 - the birds were in fine voice. I checked the clock - 05.10. Now, a normal person would have smiled at the synchronicity, turned over and drifted back to sleep. I, however, think that normal is over-rated. Actually, let me go further: There is no normal.

Anyway, I crept downstairs, grabbed my wellies and my Blackberry, and teased open the back door (to avoid calling the cat). I didn't take a notebook, but I had the idea to try and record the birdsong and create a soundscape for future writing. We're very fortunate to live in a village that leads down to some woods, so in only a few minutes I was heading past a field where horses were curious to see me. 

The results of my first soundscapes weren't encouraging. True, you could hear the whisper of birds, but the rustling of my cagoule (come on, you knew I'd have a cagoule) pretty much drowned out everything else. No matter, I went down to the woods and breathe in the day. There was, needless to say, no one else around. Sunlight stretched down to touch the fading bluebells, like a last caress. Blackbirds seemed to bicker with wrens while robins chuckled at them both. 

I remembered then, as I stood smiling at the river, that this was what writing used to mean to me. Not followers and likes, or retweets, or even blog posts, just a writer's curiosity and that sublime cocktail of inspiration and imagination. In that forest I was with elves, their shimmering presence flickering through the foliage. I heard cloven hoofs behind me and turned to see only the dust of my reason, lifting free in the dewy haze. I breathed in the forest and touched upon something glorious - the absolute certainty, that moment, that a writer's life is meant to about moments and adventure, and the quest to bring that back to the page. Everything else fell away, right then, until there was simply a communion between me and the muse. Only this time the muse didn't offer me stories and characters, or plots and metaphors. She simply drew close, as I closed my eyes in the sunlight and felt her breath against my face, and she whispered joyfully, "Write."


I slipped away, but a few steps though far away,
Leaving the world behind me.
Each step an answer to a call I could not name.
Earth and Sky became my companions,
Drawing me gently to a place I'd almost forgotten.
Enchanted by birdsong and the content of horses,
I trod the path.
Down, down into the verdant shadows,
Where silence embraced me.

I have seen the resting place of kinds,
Heard secrets I cannot now recall,
And witnessed a miracle, a becoming.
And all my cleverness fell away,
Until I was not the observer,
Nor even the hallowed guest.
I simply belonged.

8 comments:

L said...

Lovely!

Chloe said...

What a beautiful post! I've seen rather a lot of dawn over the last few months as my boy has his first feed around 5am (previously 3am then 4am - gradually getting more sleep!) Although I can't say I feel inspired every morning there is something rather marvellous about being up just as the dawn chorus starts or as the light begins to creep in through the blinds.

Derek Thompson said...

Thank you both. Just think, Chloe, once the wee one sleeps in a little you'll be able to still get up at 5 and start writing!

Lady Cordelia said...

Derek, you have a kick-ass muse! Knows just how to tease you into capturing the moment. Love your word-crafting.

Lady Cordelia said...

Love the lines:

And all my cleverness fell away,
Until I was not the observer,
Nor even the hallowed guest.
I simply belonged.

Gillian McDade said...

Brilliant! I'm not a morning person but work dictates that I rise promptly at 5:45am :(

Kath Morgan said...

I have been thinking a lot lately about why I started writing and trying to reconnect with that. Thanks for this post. It's inspired me to keep at it.

Derek Thompson said...

Yeah, me too! It's all too easy to get caught up in the external validation treadmill and then forget why we picked up a pen in the first place!