Saturday 1 January 2011

Sunlight on Lavender

Some scents sparkle and then quickly disappear, like the effervescence of citrus zest or a bright note of mint. Some are strange siren songs of rarer origin that call from violets hidden in woodland, or irises after spring rain. Some scents release a rush of half-forgotten memories.  And then there are the scents that seem to express truths about people and places that you have never forgotten: the scents that make time stand still.
                                                                                             From The Lantern

A real taste of Provence to wish you Happy New Year, as there’s nothing like the promise of southern light and warmth to raise the spirits when January days can be dank and dreary.

Actually, bad weather, on a working day at least, can be a positive for writers of a certain disposition. Dark clouds and rain stimulate the imagination. The colours seem brighter in the mind, somehow. I’m content sitting at my desk knowing I’m not missing out on much outside, as I try to paint pictures in words.

A few years ago when I was reading everything I could about Lawrence Durrell for my novel Songs of Blue and Gold, I came across a telling exchange between him and the poet Dylan Thomas. However did Thomas manage to write in the grey gloom of winter in Wales, Durrell wanted to know. Surely he needed vivid colours and vibrant life around him for inspiration? Thomas replied that if he lived on Greek island, like Durrell, he would never get any work done; the grey helped him to see brightness better. I’m definitely with Dylan Thomas on that one.

Researching a book is something different, though. That’s the time to get out and about in the sun with a notebook; the time when life can seem pretty much ideal. Then, in my case, it’s back to England in winter to form the fragments, the odd details and observations, into some kind of whole. I’m just at that stage now with a new novel. New Year’s Resolution Number One: start writing!   

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