Wednesday, May 25, 2005

How to write a novel Part 1: Look out of the window

Another post about Elias (the novel), although I have to admit to not having written anything since the last post here due to going to Cannes and attending two weddings and a funeral, and also that the post is not actually about writing, but something tangential to it.

But since I got back to the Manor at the weekend, I have been looking out of the window a lot. It's something I do anyway, as my desk where I write this is by my front window which looks out over the western edge of the Somerset Levels and, beyond them, the Quantocks and the cusp of Exmoor.

Due to the extreme weather we've had here over the last week, though, the landscape has changed on an hourly basis. I'm amazed at how different the same view can look under different atmospheric conditions: storms, mist, sudden bursts of sunlight that illumine parts of the landscape you've never seen before, gaps in the clouds, strange dusks.

It maybe sounds strange, but I have felt as though I have been able to see what C17th Dutch painters like Ruisdael saw... especially when the cloud breaks for five minutes or so, and an otherwise overcast landscape can have a shaft of gold cast down across it, maybe just highlighting one village, or a few fields, or a church spire.

Given that Elias happens in the C17th, this last few days' weather has seemed auspicious indeed, and I know that, given the right kind of silence, I will be back at work.

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