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Friday 2 May 2014

Refilling the Creative Writing Well...

By Martyn Stanley
The surge of spring is well under way. These bluebells surround our house like the sea, and  for a few precious weeks each year their blue tide sweeps through the wood.

Growing things gives me a break from writing and gives my mind a chance to freewheel. I can develop fictional characters and formulate new stories. This week, I've been planting salads out in the Greenhouse #1, and looking forward to the first tabbouleh of summer. Tomato plants give off a powerful fragrance which reminds me of when I was little, as my father used to grow hundreds of the things. The perfume of lilac blossom is another trigger for memories. The house where I grew up had double white lilacs all along one boundary. In the low light of dusk and dawn the flowers glowed like banks of snow. I used to think it was an extra present, as my birthday falls this month. Things were so much simpler back then!

The dawn chorus is another powerfully evocative spur for me at this time of year. The birds start singing before first light. That's when I like to go outside for some thinking time. Sitting in the garden with a cup of tea, waiting for the performance to begin eases me gently into my working day. It's usually a robin who starts singing first here. There are two song thrush nests close to the house, one in the kitchen garden and a second in  a holly tree on the lower lawn. I like their songs second only to the nightingales that sing a few miles up the road. There are blackbirds nesting in the ivy encrusting our old shed, and once the male starts warbling from the ridge of the bigger greenhouse, I know it's time to get ready for the school run.

Sunday, 4th May, is National Dawn Chorus Day. The thought of yet another "day" to add to all the other weird and wonderful promotional activities dreamt up by marketing men usually provokes yawns of boredom. Not this time. We'll be heading off to Highnam before 4am, to see if the famous Gloucestershire nightingales are on song. Then it'll be back home for a great British breakfast. The smell of frying bacon is another memorable experience. It makes me want to write a piece on why I could never be completely vegetarian...

What inspires you to write?

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