There is something very romantic about being a writer. There is a wispy, dreamy quality about sitting with a note book, catching at any random thought that strays your way and hoping to turn it into something more solid – like a book. The image of the Great Writer lost in thought, swigging back absinthe and feverishly producing page after page of manuscript is very seductive. This is not to say that all authors aspire to write great literature; many of us are just happy to be consistently published and to make a modest living.
Unlike some other career paths the writing profession has an iconic place in popular culture. Iconic, romantic images abound in the literary world; images such as Emily Bronte dying on the couch in the parsonage at Haworth before knowing the success her novel Wuthering Heights was to achieve in later years; or Robert Louis Stevenson writing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in a feverish rush just before he died; the Romantic Poets chatting over absinthe and laudanum; Jane Austen defying convention by choosing to remain unmarried and supporting herself by the work of her pen; Virginia Wolfe walking into the river with a stone in her pocket. No other profession has such an air of romantic tragedy about it. It is not surprising that we allow ourselves to be seduced by such imagery.
As you have probably guessed by now, I love reading classic novels and poetry and I am a fan of the Great Writers. I am intrigued and in awe of their dedication. They wrote very long books in the age of pen and ink, painstakingly copying out their manuscript several times to ensure it was presentable. The postal service was also relatively new back then and one can only imagine the increased agony of a lost manuscript, when the whole thing would have to be hand written again. Many of these great tomes were written by candle light, leaving their authors with sore eyes and poor vision. Although they knew no other way, this does not make their complete dedication any less valid and remarkable. These writers were Committed with a capital ‘C’!
I like to bring an air of classic romance to my desk and because I am very inspired by the likes of Jane Austen and the Brontes I bought myself a replica of a Victorian ladies writing slope. I can remember when I first saw these beautiful replicas on a visit to the
I was 20 years old, still unpublished and I imagined these replicas to be akin to lucky charms.
Unfortunately at that time they were beyond my price range as they are
very expensive. Years later however, I
bought my own writing slope with some of the proceeds from my own work. I use this writing slope when I
write out my first drafts. It gets me
into the right/write frame of mind and frees my creativity. Bronte Parsonage Museum in West Yorkshire.
I recently returned to
Haworth and was thrilled to see
my own work being sold in one of the shops on Main Street, just below the Parsonage. In the space of 18 years I had gone from an
unpublished wannabe to a published writer whose work was represented in Howarth,
the literary Mecca of Yorkshire. It
might seem strange, but to me this is the ultimate accolade and one of the high
points in my career so far. Perhaps it means such a lot to me because I am a Yorkshire lass but whatever the reason, now when I work at my writing slope
I think of my work in that little Haworth shop and I am newly inspired.
The writing slope is just one of the little tricks I use to summon up inspiration. I have also used a feathered biro – a modern take on the old quill pens and much easier to use. I have been know to wear poets tops with frilly cuffs and I have tried absinthe, though to be honest it didn’t inspire me so much as leave me with a killer headache! These are some of the things I do to keep the writing flowing and to navigate past writer's block.
So now the question is; what would inspire you? What trick or romantic tool could you use to free your creativity and put your mind in the mood to write? It might be a writing slope, a director’s chair, a quill pen or a new laptop. It might be something as simple as re-reading the old classics or a visit to a literary location. Whatever it may be, bear in mind that you are investing in yourself as a writer. Such money is never a waste so dare to invest in your dream. Where do you hope your writing will take you in the next 18 years?