I took the advice of fellow writer Deborah Durbin and had a day off. No planning, no plotting and definitely no weighing up one novel against another.
Anne and I went to Somerset for the day, first to Taunton and then to Glastonbury; which, aside from being the spiritual home of As Above So Below magazine (you didn’t really think I’d miss the opportunity to plug my own mag, did you?), is also somewhere we’ve been visiting for years. I don’t know if you’d call it a pilgrimage, exactly, but it’s something along those lines.
To be a writer is to look for inspiration in strange places, sometimes finding it in even more unexpected ones. In Glastonbury, healers and mystics abound. Everyone seems to want to save you (if only from the burden of having money) or bless you or tell you their personal one true way. Like Dionne Warwick, I walk on by.
For me, it’s one of those places that never loses its charm. Glastonbury Tor rises out of the landscape like the mythical island it was said to be. On a really misty day, you lose sight of the town from the summit, creating a sense of unreality. No such luck today.
But in a Glastonbury frame of mind, you look at the world differently. Squiggles on a faded and discarded lolly stick look a little like runes, conveying a secret message. The bug buzzing around by the tower could be a scarab. Even the land itself seems to shimmer in the light, one moment solid and another rippling between fields and forgotten marshland. From such flights of fancy, the writer in me plucks inspirational pollen out of the air. I remember what it is to be a child and to see magic and wonder everywhere.
To some extent you suspend disbelief or perhaps more accurately, you expand your belief. This doesn’t work for everyone though. I saw one couple descending the path and the only thing a woman had to say to hr partner in the way of revelation was ‘No internet’ as she waved her handheld device around in the air forlornly.
After the Tor we went to Chalice Well and I don’t mind telling you that it’s been high on my list of ‘places to have my ashes scattered’ for years. It beats the Tor because, up on high, you’d be likely to get a face full of ash if the wind turned against you. Chalice Well is a peace garden of beauty and tranquility. I’ve never yet been there and not come away enriched in some way.
Naturally I relate it all to writing. As writers, we need to be refreshed and we – forgive the pun – need to return to the well periodically for inspiration, clarity and a little introspection. Because the truth is that writing can be hard work. On a good day it’s like being a magician, extracting ideas, sentences and plotlines out of ourselves like a magician pulls scarves out of his sleeve. And on a bad day it can be like fumbling through the top hat when the rabbit has long since buggered off and merely left us a few reminders in there. But either way, the show must go on!