Does where you write determine the quality of your work? Certainly you need some quiet, a certain level of comfort, a few basic accoutrements. But can this be found just as easily at the top of an urban tower block as in a cabin in the New Forest? Is there inspiration to be found in the beauty of nature, or does it just distract?Living in a city, I’ve learnt to filter out much of the clamour, and yet I’m being increasingly drawn to a more monastic method of writing. Perhaps I’m lured by friends’ and colleagues’ accounts of the solitude of writers’ retreats. The pictures on Tania Hershman’s blog, for example. Then there’s my friend’s friend, just back from a creative writing holiday (whatever that is) on a Greek island: ‘Sun, dappled shade, olive groves, turquoise sea, the gentle murmur of cicadas, the mellow tonking of goat bells, and the company of writers.’ (Yeah, I could cope with that, Si.)
I suppose it depends what you’re writing. Much of my novel is set on the wild slopes of Dartmoor, and I certainly visit there a lot, making notes, soaking up the flora and fauna. But then I come home and write about it to the sound of cars screeching by, neighbours making love or war, cats doing battle over a wheelie bin. Trains that I can hear even with my head under the bath water.
I thought writing was just sweat and graft that you could do anywhere. Perhaps it’s time to seek out some of what a Buddhist monk might term the sound of one hand clapping.
So, where do you write? And does it matter?