Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fantasy (and Horror)

I was delighted to be asked last year to contribute to the latest in the very successful Now Write! series, published by Tarcher/Penguin in the US. Each book deals with a different genre: established writers describe their conceptual approach and current preoccupations, then set an exercise for aspiring writers to develop new skills.
So, which genre? History? Travel writing? No, I'm to be in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror! And in some distinguished company - Ursula Le Guen et al. This has come about through my work on legend and landscape, a satisfactorily loose fit for Fantasy, despite my usual protestations that legends are historically based and connected with specific places.
I wrote a piece called 'Leaping into Landscape' with an exercise of getting imaginatively lost in a forest. Looking forward to publication in coming months. Fun.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Landscape Writing

The Mirror of Landscape begins with a semi-diary entry for December 30th, describing a moor-land walk. I follow the same route today through a changed world. Squelching is replaced by crackling as the land is finally frozen after weeks of fairly constant rain. I cannot resist that satisfying snap of ice beneath my boot, although soon regret this childish over-enthusiasm as I sink deep into the earth and have to wrench my leg out of the reluctant bog.
The muted winter sun is a novelty, brightening what has been lost in mizzle for so long. Sounds are sharper, no longer muffled by the wet air or hurled away by the buffeting winds. Where the moor runs right down into the reservoir below me, the oatmeal expanse of grasses is transformed into a shallow beach of lemon sand. On the same gorse plants sit rusty stems of old woody growth and fresh deep green points newly alert. The long, unmarked body of a dead snake lies lightly coiled, mostly upside down, on the broad rutted path. It must have been lured out of a warm lair by the deceptive sunlight into an unwelcoming chill. On the bottom of a tiny footprint pond, its lifeless pen-nib head moves gracefully in time with the trickling current above, as run-off water is carried into the lower bank.
As I’m looking at everything, so familiar and yet so constantly fluctuating, I’m thinking about writing and expressing what’s around me, and then wonder if this is inevitable. Is it possible to remain within the landscape without anticipating the warmer hours in the study capturing the experience on paper? Does that degree of separation forcibly introduce a note of manipulation or make the temptation of enhancement irresistible? Is the original experience in the head or of the body?
I see I have written ‘muted sun’ when on the spot it was simply ‘pale.' So can I be true to the land and to my own criteria, or is this a meaningless distinction? I know it bothers me a lot. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Please visit the Saints Shore Way blog

Please have a look at the new blog, even though it is only a baby blog as yet. Now that the text is almost finished, I'll be updating much more regularly with articles, photos, etc. Once the Saints Shore Way book is out in April, I hope to add personal experiences of walkers on the route during the rest of the year. or link opposite.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Boots made for walking

Very pleased with my new boots from Hotters. I've admired them online for a while and decided to take advantage of a good sale price - turning out to be a real bargain. I walked several miles with them straight out of the box the day they arrived, in total comfort. They are also warm which would never have been a criterion for me in the past but since my terrible and chronic right foot problems, it makes an important difference. (I should maybe wear them in the house, as no heating is not helping my poor foot's long term recovery.) Only possible concern is that the tread seems to pick up small stones easily, but that's not an issue on most walking terrain. Definitely recommend these walking boots and Hotters shoes are pretty hot too

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New Year begins ... back to work

My 2013 begins with a walk in Huelgoat forest under alternating sunshine and heavy rain, and a cloudy day checking details around Locquenolé, Ploujean (ruined chapel of the Chateau de Keranroux pictured), Plouezoc'h and Barnenez. I must finish the Saints' Shore Way text by the end of January and my little Huelgoat book for April. More excitingly, I am back to the Mirror of Landscape with a rather clearer vision of the form the book will take, but it will take at least a year to write. This is one case where the process is to be spun out and savoured.