The afternoon’s sun sparkles through the loft window of my writer’s nest. A moment later, a bird slides down the velux window before flying off with a tuneful song. It seems I’m being called out to play.
Taking regular breaks from writing is essential. It saves my eyes from the glare of the screen and stops my mind from being engulfed in a sea of words. It’s even more important right now while I’m deep in the all-consuming task of writing my new novel, Earth Song.
Fen and I venture out to the higher edge of west Lancashire and take a little-known road. It is along here where we find a peaceful and scenic lay-by, on the enfolding slopes of greenery.
I have brought my notebook but this hour (or so) is a gift of presence and, within moments, my senses are completely engaged by my surroundings. All thoughts, ideas, and mind-chatter, any notion of note-taking, dissipates, and I’m fully immersed in nature’s magic: beautiful and intriguing sights and sounds; the earthy smell and taste of autumn’s air; the fine breeze teasing my skin. Then there is the extra sense of knowing there’s more here than what I fully perceive: a glimpse of this and that; a ripple in the veil; a hidden doorway into who knows where…
The birds steal my attention and so do the trees. There are broken branches and gaps in the woods that take on the appearance of something other. I use Fen’s binoculars to bring these secret worlds closer to me.
I call in the inquisitive, curly-coated cows from their grazing in the most serene pasture, and sing to these gentle-eyed ones. What a tolerant audience!
The sky, a silver blanket when we arrived, is now a pastel blue wash, and the sun emerges from the clouds.
Apart from regular, contemplative tea-breaks, my usual time-out involves a change of scene, a catch-up with family and friends, a good walk or a visit to somewhere familiar or new. Nearly always, nature finds its way in.
While writing this particular novel (to complete first draft by end of 2018), I’ve partly retreated from everyday life. I’m bi-locating into my characters’ world, which means I’m not wholly present in this one. It is necessary if I’m to deliver something worth reading.
You’ll find me with that faraway look in my eyes. Some with ‘the sight’ might even see me phase in and out of this realm like an apparition.
During this busy spell as I focus on creative writing, projects and commissions, time-out in nature is essential and helps me maintain a balance.
The golden ones in my life are patient and fine with my temporary absence. My dear Fen, the only one who is privy to my writer’s journey, and understands it, is my co-traveller at this time. He shines a light for me, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for these moments here in a rare place that has managed to retain its timeless quality: the essence of old England.
A family of long-tail tits flit from branch to branch while the cows trundle on, completing another circuit of grazing. A bevy of pheasants pick their way across the meadow, enriching the autumn shades draping these hills and dales. A buzzard soars above while unseen crows caw loudly from the deep woods.
It’s time to go.
Nature offers many gifts but, today, it is the gift of presence that is the most valuable. A gift that stays with me well after we leave.