There's Something In The Air Down Here
Ever since I went on Imagine Creative Writing's retreat at Northmoor and came away with a whole book planned out, I've been convinced that there's something magical about the South West when it comes to creativity. When I spent a week in Falmouth last October, I came away with another idea for a book and having now spent more time down here in the lead up to the summer holidays, yet more ideas have made their way into my writer's notebook and one or two have even been given their own notebook where I've started fleshing the plots out in a bit more detail. Whilst I'm not getting any actual writing done, on account of the fact my family are here with me, I'm getting plenty of background research done for when I'm back at home and I do actually start writing again. It's also lovely knowing that if I need to do some on the spot research/writing at a later date, I have somewhere to come and do it.
However, what I've also realised is that it's not just me that this place has this effect on. My eldest tells me every day about the new ideas he's had since we've been in Cornwall. However, whereas my ideas are very much based in the locations we've been visiting, his are just more ideas for the book he's working on and not related to the area at all! The creative currents just seem to flow far more freely in the South West.
Indeed, it's also had an effect on my reading habits. Last month and at the start of this month, I was beginning to regret challenging myself to read the 100 books on the BBC list. With authors like Dickens and Hardy and lots of very long books on the 'to read' pile, I was feeling under increasing pressure to simply 'get through' some of the books and the first ones I read, quite often left me feeling incredibly underwhelmed. There was the odd one I enjoyed, but by and large I wasn't enjoying what I was reading. To me, there is something inherently wrong with this - reading is something I get immense pleasure from and this challenge was sapping all the enjoyment from it. What is the point of reading 'worthy' books if the only satisfaction you get from them is knowing that there's one less book on the 'have to read' pile? When I looked at the list I'd put together for this month, it felt very much as though the only books I was going to be able to read were either ones from the list or ones I had to read with an eye on how I was going to review them. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy reviewing the books, otherwise I wouldn't do it, but it does sometimes mean that I don't experience the same sense of 'getting lost' in the book.
Nevertheless, since starting to read in Cornwall, I've read several books that have helped me to rediscover that sense of enjoyment, including some on the list. A couple of those are ones I really wasn't expecting to find interesting and I'm definitely discovering some new authors to investigate.
All that said, I think next year I'm going to set myself a slightly easier reading challenge, but for now, instead of letting this one stress me out, I'm going to just go with the flow and see what the list throws up next!