After emerging from weeks of studying for my exam for the Reading & Studying Literature module of my Open University degree, on my first free Saturday in ages I went to an exhibition at the British Library. I am obviously obsessed.
Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands is all about the influence that the landscape has had on British writers, and it is a really great exhibition. Little frissons of excitement buzzed through me when I read handwritten first drafts and notes from the likes of Graham Greene, Kazuo Ishiguro and George Orwell, while the short film from Robert MacFarlane and Simon Armitage about their travel writing and poetry, and how it has been formed by their relationship with the land they live on, was truly inspirational.
Separated into six separate kinds of landscape: Rural Dreams, Dark Satanic Mills, Wild Places, Beyond the City, Cockney Visions and Waterlands, the literature it looks at ranges from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and so much inbetween. It set me to thinking about the landscapes that I've lived in and visited, and the influence they've had on my writing, and I realised it has been huge.
In the novel that I am currently working on many of the places I have lived in also feature in my character's life and I can see that what happens to her state of mind when she's in them is a reflection of how I feel when I am in the city, the wilds and the suburbs. Recently I spent a blissful week in a Fisherman's Hut in the peace and tranquility of Southwold in Suffolk, and the story ideas were flowing fast when my mind was freed from all of the stuff that clutters it up in my day-to-day life in London, all of them inspired by what I could see, smell and feel all around me.
So, with that in mind, I do believe it's time to put the city life behind me and get myself back to a world of natural beauty, to start living some rural dreams and spending a lot more time in wild places.