I’ve been working slowly through the ideas in my head, and I feel like this novel will either be pure madness or absolute brilliance. I’m doing something I’ve never done before, and maybe has never been done before. It’s definitely forcing me to think outside the box, at least.
And I found myself struggling, as always, and so I made a point of leaving the house as much as I could last weekend. I think I spend Friday through Sunday mostly elsewhere, with the Munchkin in tow.
I know that when I’m having a tough time, whether creatively, mentally, emotionally, I hermit. And while hermiting is all well and good at times, it doesn’t ultimately help things. I also realised that over the last few months I had barely left my house apart from grocery shopping and dog walking. Even as blind as I can get to my own problems, I knew that wasn’t a good thing.
So I squared my shoulders, put on my brave face, told myself I was a big girl and could face the world outside my front door and did things. I was social, I talked to people (real, grown-up people!), I wore outfits that were not chosen based solely on comfort or how quickly they’d stain.
It was kind of a big deal.
And in the car on the way home from Somewhere, one of those days, I felt inspired. Inspired in a way that I have not felt for all my hermitage.
I have this weird thing where I sometimes feel self-conscious even if I’m alone in my own house, as if some nebulous consciousness is aware of what I do and say, and I’m aware of the possibility of that nebulous consciousness. So I never feel like I can read out loud, or sing to myself, unless I direct it as a silly ditty to the dog or baby, because that’s safe and okay to do.
But I had been given a fantastic book, Steering the Craft, an Ursula Le Guin writing workshop in book form. The first exercise was to enjoy spoken language, to play with word-sounds, as language was always intended to be heard. I hadn’t been able to get up the nerve to start speaking, or reading, out loud to myself at home.
But I was out, in my car, with Munchkin sleeping in the back seat and the dog in the boot. I was on a road that was winding me between hills and then suddenly opened into flat fields on either side. I had an amazing view of the quintessential fine Scottish summer day – that is to say, it was threatening rain and brilliantly sunny at the same time. In the distance there were swathes of purple-grey clouds with discernible downpours falling in straight rivulets, but clear bright blue behind me. It was really breathtaking, and if I’d been able to stop and take some photos I would have loved to. I’d never seen a sky like it.
It inspired a poem. I love poetry, it’s something I do for myself when I want to write but don’t have a full story. It’s a snapshot of a moment. And this moment was spectacular.
I started composing, out loud, in the car. I repeated phrases and tweaked them. Past tense, present tense, adverb, adjective. If anyone had heard me they would have thought I was suffering some kind of mental breakdown. I worked it aloud in spoken verse, and when it was done, I told it to myself again, and again, and again, for the rest of the journey home. I didn’t want to forget it. And I haven’t, since.
That moment of inspiration would have never happened if I hadn’t left my house, no matter how hard I sometimes find it to do that.