Normally I write at my desk, sometimes I write on trains and buses when I'm travelling, or in hotel rooms if I'm staying overnight somewhere. I write in other places too, if I get an idea that I simply must jot down, in cafés or pubs using napkins to scribble on because I've forgotten my notebook, in a supermarket queue scribbling on the back of my hand, in the doctor's or dentist's waiting room but most of my writing is done indoors. The other week I did something completely different, I attended a workshop held in Caldmore Garden by my friend and fellow writer, David Calcutt. David is an author, playwright, poet and currently the Writer in Residence at the garden and the writing group meets up once a month. Always one to try something different I decided to attend. It was a fascinating morning. The first thing that surprised me was this tree:
Maybe I've lived a sheltered life but I've never seen a tree wrapped in a blanket before! Apparently it's called 'yarn bombing' which is a form of street art. Knitting groups knit bits of colourful patchwork then meet up and decorate something. What a fab idea.
The theme for the workshop was Spring and our instructions were to look for signs of Spring in the garden, both visible and invisible. We all had a walk around, notebooks and pens in hand, to jot down our observations and thoughts. Some flowers were already in bloom and plants were shooting up through the soil. I imagined hedgehogs stirring, hidden under a pile of leaves somewhere, getting ready to wake up, buds pushing up from under the soil, dragonfly lava and frogspawn starting to form in the pond. A story sprang in my mind, about an inquisitive young mole burrowing its way through the soil to play in the garden. The other writers in the group were equally inspired.
As was David.
I was intrigued by both the project and the garden. I imagined that in Summer it must be a colourful, peaceful oasis in the middle of the bustling town where families could spend an hour or two together, children could play on the swing, look at the flowers, listen to the birds singing in the trees.
After an hour or so we all went to the local pub where we discussed our thoughts and observations over lunch. I was impressed by the group's reflections and the depth of their writing. I definitely should have thought a bit deeper instead of concocting children's stories in my head! David pointed out that we can relate the two approaches to the garden, the exterior and interior to ourselves, the outside image we present to the world and the personal connection we have, the things inside that define us.
A really interesting day that gave me a lot of food for thought, and inspired two story ideas. I will definitely try to spend more time writing outdoors.