Monday, 18 July 2011

Life after the Little Blue Hut.

I confess I cried when I walked away from the hut for the last time, it was like saying goodbye to someone I love. It has been such an amazing experience that I never wanted it to end.

I think my family are probably glad it’s over though – for the last 6 weeks I have spent every spare hour there, I think in all that time there were only 4 days I didn’t visit.

I’ve learnt how important it is for me to have my own space to write, and also just to sit and think. So my mission this weekend was to reclaim my tiny office from the junk and piles of washing waiting to be put away. It’s all done now and I have no excuse not to carry on writing as I have been recently. And, just maybe, if I concentrate really hard, I can imagine I’m in the hut again (with the added advantage/distraction of my computer). Out of my window I can even see a tiny sliver of sea between the houses.

It is harder though. Even as I’m sitting here, I’m can hear the washing up screaming at me. I’m resisting, but it is a distraction. It was far easier when I could just leave it all behind me. But I guess that’s just a case of training my brain.

I think I will keep this blog going though, after all it's 2011 - shouldn’t every writer have a blog? And since the Little Blue Hut I feel more like a writer than I ever have done before.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Little Blue Hut Open Day

I was really lucky with the weather today – it was sunny but not too hot. I had a fair few people come, including fellow writers, family, and some friends I hadn’t seen for over fifteen years.

It was lovely to catch up with everyone, and amazed me how many people could actually sit in the hut without it seeming too crowded. Much cake and fizzy drinks were consumed, and many bubbles were blown.

Seeing all my poems pegged up on the wall highlighted the interconnected threads that run through many of them. They are obviously inspired by the location as they all revolve around the sea in one way or another.

While here I’ve played with various methods of poem generation, and I’ve listed them below.

  • Free writing from a line of poetry

  • Just free writing about what I can see

  • Mind mapping – write the main concept word in the middle, then mind map all possible links and connotations on a BIG piece of paper.

  • The alternate line exercise

    • Take any poem (although often better if it isn’t one you know well) and write out every other line.

    • You then fill in your own lines in the missing spaces.

    • You then rewrite out your lines, with the original ones missing, and again fill in the blanks, then tweak.

    • It’s really interesting how your own ideas come through, even when using another poem as a skeleton. (Thanks to Maria McCarthy who showed me this idea).

  • I’ve also used random poetry generation

    • Draw a square 2 inches by 2 inches on the cover of a magazine, then cut right the way though, to end up with a stack of small squares.

    • The next step is to write down all the phrase fragments, then pick some of them out and shape a poem. (Thanks to Tamara Schultz who introduced me to this idea).
I’ve found the free writing exercises best when I’m feeling inspired, whereas the other exercises are more about making a poem appear, finding a way to access that creativity when it doesn’t want to come out to play. Concentrating on the mechanics of an exercise often helps by distracting the logical part of my brain. It does seem though, that no matter what method I use, what direction I approach the writing, whatever needs to be said, comes out in one form or another.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Noticing things...

Since being here, I’ve started paying much more attention to what’s going on around me. Listening more, noticing the tiny details, beetles on leaves, the untied shoelaces of a toddler, the spiders' webs on my raspberry bushes.

Last weekend there was an event up on the slopes, Classic Cars I think, there were bands playing for most of the day. At first I thought the music would annoy me, but actually it encouraged me to sit and listen and people watch. The conversations I overheard really brought it home to me that people are people, the way they interact is the same everywhere.

I heard a few comments about the beach huts themselves…

A couple following a man down the grassy slope, he reminded me of an estate agent, seemed to be selling the area to them… Of course you can always get a beach hut, for when you come down for the day. There’s no electricity but people have little gas stoves so they can make a cup of tea… or even a cup of coffee! The couple just nodded enthusiastically.

Another man talking disparagingly about the huts there’s nothing to them, just changing huts really, or you could sit in them when it rains – my thoughts were, how little you know!

An older couple walked past, the woman pointing to a stripy hut and saying very indignantly There it is, I told you it had stripes. The man replying, in an even more indignant tone well you could have just told me the number, while she walked on ahead very quickly.

Then, a sure sign that love isn’t dead… a woman was balancing along the groyne and wobbling. Her other half at first put out his hand to steady her… then thought better of it and pushed her off. However, in his defence, he did then use the excuse of her sitting on the pebbles for a kiss and a cuddle.

Wednesday at the hut was the opposite. It was unbelievably still. The air scarcely seemed to breathe, the tide was way out, seemed to barely skim the seabed – there were no waves, just tiny tiny ripples. Apart from the change in colour from brown/green to silver/blue, the land and water just flowed into one another, both sea and wet sand reflecting the clouds equally well.

When it’s this quiet, every sound sticks out. The plop of a seagull diving, the different languages of seabirds, gull and oystercatcher duets. Swallows swoop past the window, the hum of their wings vibrating amazingly loudly. I can hear the thud and puff of a jogger, and the hiss buzz of tyres on tarmac.

There's something about space and quietness that allows you to notice the little things that usually get drowned in the rush of everyday.