Friday, 1 May 2009

The importance of place

Everyone has their special places.

Sometimes a place that gives you that comfortingly familiar feeling of belonging:a childhood haunt where the memories of your past float by like clouds across the sky. Sometimes it's a place you come across quite by accident. It might have a spectacular view, or perhaps it's just a little patch of quiet in the midst of a busy city.

Recently I've discovered a park at the top of my road. It's tiny: no more than a patch of grass surrounding a war memorial and a few benches. What really makes it is the view: the park looks out over the harbour. At dusk, I like to sit and watch the dying rays of the sun glinting on the water as it sinks towards the horizon. It's a perfect place to sit and write, or think.

As a writer, it's important to be aware of the world around you - and often that means getting out there. Leaving the cocoon of your bedroom, study, kitchen, or wherever it is that you usually write and setting out on a voyage of discovery.

While travelling to another country can be an incredible, inspirational experience, there's a lot to be said for rediscovering the familiar. Finding the exotic in the ordinary. As Proust says:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

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