The way I see things.... by Joy Margetts
Last month we managed a few days away. Just four short days and we didn’t go far. We live in a beautiful part of the world, so it was a case of just escaping from our hometown that is a busy holiday hotspot, to a much quieter place – a caravan in a field twenty minutes away! While we were away we had time to visit some lovely places, one that despite being so close to us geographically, we had never visited before. Between the early- nineteenth century and right up until the 1960’s Dorothea had been the site of an extensive series of deep slate quarries gouged out of the landscape. Over the years the quarry pits had been dug deeper and deeper, eventually falling beneath the natural water table and requiring pumps to pump out the water whilst they were still being mined. Alongside the quarries were industrial buildings and workshops, a spectacular Cornish Beam pump and even a fine three storey Victorian house built for the Quarry owner on site, with it’s own walled gardens and extensive stabling.
Now long abandoned as a working site, nature has reclaimed Dorothea Quarries. The Quarry pits are now awe -inspiring steep sided, water filled deep blue -green pools, much loved by divers. The buildings are in ruin and the natural woodland has reclaimed the site for nature. Now clearly marked paths lead you through the wooded site, and the mix of tall tress and colourful undergrowth, with glimpses of glistening blue water, and atmospheric ruins make it quite a magical place to visit.
It is also inspiration heaven for a writer! I had purposely decided not to write, or even think about my writing whilst we were away, but it was hard not to engage the imagination, especially as a lover of history of all kinds and a writer of historic fiction. But there was inspiration aplenty there for other genre writers too. The looming edifice of the windowless mansion, surrounded by dark dense woodland, would have been perfect for writers of gothic horror or ghost stories. The paths leading off into the distance, twisting and turning through the trees, would be great for those writing adventure stories or fantasy. And then there were the quarry pools – a perfect spot to dump those dead bodies for you crime and mystery writers. I, of course, could not help myself. As soon as I saw the ruined buildings and especially the elegant arch that marked what looked like part of the stable complex, or perhaps the grand entrance into the gardens, my mind went into overdrive. I wanted to know who had built it, lived there, what was their story – and could I retell it? With embellishments?
It did get me thinking though, how as individual writers looking for inspiration, we might each see different things when experiencing the same places. We come with our genre mindset perhaps, and focus on the things that interest us most, looking for ideas from what we are seeing and feeling to bolster our writing. We also come with our own values too, our own past experiences, and character traits. Much of my writing is faith based, so I often see spiritual inspiration in the things I come across. I think about how I could use what I am seeing to perhaps illustrate a biblical truth. What I have realised, above all, is that the more I write, the less able I am to just enjoy a beautiful place without seeing inspiration everywhere! I tried, I tried very hard, to just walk those paths with my husband and Jack Russel terrier, to breathe in the warm air and enjoy the sun on my back, and enjoy the beauty of the place in the moment. I tried to switch my writer’s brain off but without complete success.
How about you? Does your writer- self dominate, and your imagination go into overdrive when you visit new and interesting places? Or are you able to disengage and just enjoy it for what it is? How much does your chosen genre, or even your own values, influence how you see things, and how they inspire you?