|Gibraltar Harbour - has inspired stories and poems|
I'm one of those people who are never short of ideas for writing. Not that I'm blowing my own trumpet here, there's nothing special about that, and because writing is not my job, I am not forced to come up with ideas and angles and article selling points day after day - if I were, then I would have written a very different first sentence to this blog and I have infinite respect for those who achieve publication after publication under the pressure of deadlines and still find ideas for success.
I often find that my ideas come from location, from places. There is a good deal written about the importance of location and setting in writing - who can ignore the threatening presence of the windswept moors in "Wuthering Heights" or the architectural landscape of "Gormenghast"?
What I have been finding in recent months is just how much the places I live in or visit can have an impact on my writing. For example, the ancient graveyard of Newington Church on a frost-bitten evening was the perfect setting for my short story "To Hear an Angel sing";
|Newington Church, Kent, image by Sonia Vallejo|
The back streets of old Gillingham and Chatham, steep hills lined by rows of terraced houses that were the homes of the dock workers in the early part of the twentieth century, leading down to the dirty grey waters of the estuary inspired another story: "Please stay for Christmas". The fact that all these are Christmas stories is neither here not there - I spent many Christmases in the Medway towns, where I grew up, and despite having lived away for over 6 years now, Christmas and Medway are inextricably linked in my mind.
But every place, I am certain, has its inspiration, whether for its beauty, the majestic nature of its landscape, the architectural wonders displayed, or the closeness to nature. I personally like looking beyond the picture postcard. I like to look for the story within the place, rather than just the story inspired by the place, and doing this can sometimes bring about a storyline that just has to be followed, or characters that simply beg to be created and developed until their stories are told. In this way, when I recently visited the lighthouse at Gibraltar - for the umpteenth time because I lived here as a very young child and still walk here with my kids regularly, a place so familiar to me I can easily visualise it, yet a place where I see something new each time I visit - I found myself thinking about what it must have been like, in less technologically - advanced days, to be a lighthouse keeper. And that led me to thinking about what it might be like to be a redundant lighthouse keeper, one too old to look after the lighthouse any more. And those thoughts led to my most recent poem, a section below. Location for inspiration.
The Lighthouse Keeper
|Image courtesy of Little Lenses Photography|