I have just started it and I am entranced. It is absolutely marvellous... And it's already really helped me with my inspiration for The Right Place, as some sections of the book will be set in smugglers' tunnels...
When we want a peaceful walk close to our ArtPix/Arcane HQ, we head to the village of Langton Herring and its surroundings. You get some nice views over the hills towards the Hardy monument and West Dorset.
Our favourite bit is the South West Coast Path which follows the banks of the Fleet Lagoon behind Chesil Beach. It is a refuge for many species of birds and there never are many humans around.
It is a place full of quiet beauty and a pervading sense of melancholy; it suits us just fine!
The sky was quite spectacular in places and we encountered a couple of sleet showers!
The landscape at this time of year still feels wintery compared to previous years, and the rapeseed, gorse and hawthorn flowers add some welcome touches of colour.
It’s not a secret that the past year has not been kind to my writing. Yes, successive lockdowns have kept us at home and you would have thought that writers would be having their most productive year so far. But things do not work like that. Not at all.
As a writer, I need a clear, uncluttered mind deprived of external worries and anxieties. I am an indie writer and publisher, which means that I do not get advances and I pay for everything (websites, printing of books, promotion, market stalls, etc.)
It comes as no surprise that the past year has brought many obstacles and upheavals into our lives, and this has brutally disrupted my creative process. Back in January, I had made an important decision about my professional life and just as lockdown came into effect, I had just found the perfect balance and was looking forward to an exciting and productive spring and summer season full of events, explorations and projects. Everything came crashing down.
Still, with a lot of will power, I managed to make some kind of progress on The Right Place here and there over the summer months. But oh, how excruciatingly slow it all was!
Being stuck in the house and restricted to our local area on Portland hasn’t been ideal either: I moved to Dorset four years ago in order to write books inspired by the landscape, atmosphere and history of the county. Not being able to actually explore the hills and paths of deepest Dorset and soak up the atmosphere of the county’s countryside has really made writing difficult. Many times, I have felt defeated and unable to carry on with the book. Was it something worth pursuing anyway? After all, did it really matter?
I am still fighting every day to convince myself that completing the book and getting it publish is worth it. I have plans for at least two other novels, hopefully more, and writing novels is indeed my favourite job in the whole world. But, if I am being honest, spending hours writing books doesn’t pay the bills…
So I have plans for later in the year, including starting a “proper” online shop for my published books and also for the pre-loved, vintage and rare books I have to sell, but the development of this project will depend on what’s happening with the day job. So everything is up in the air.
Still, shops deemed “non-essential” are reopening next week – and that includes our unit at The Customs House in West Bay, and there is a glimpse of hope for a few events to go ahead over the summer… More on that nearer the time!
The good news though is that we now can start exploring the Dorset countryside again, and it feels marvellous!
Yesterday, we headed to a place which I’ve been meaning to explore for a while, the area beyond Eggardon Hill around West Milton and Powerstock.
Now, if you read this blog regularly (?), you'd know that I love a good holloway (here's an excellent blog by The Dorset Rambler about holloways) as much as the writers Geoffrey Household (author of Rogue Male) and Robert Mcfarlane. The holloway which will feature in my fourth novel is Hell Lane in Symondsbury near Bridport.
Yesterday, we walked along another sunken path, the hollow lane which travels north from West Milton. According to Louise Hodgson's Secret Places of West Dorset, this particular holloway is haunted by a funeral cortege "said to wind its ghastly way along this age-old track, lighting the track with sepulchral glow, seen only by night creatures."
We didn't encounter any ghostly funeral cortege but did have to stand aside in the narrow lane to let a noisy group of scrambler bikes pass (completely spoiling the utter peacefulness of the area).
This really is the deep Dorset countryside: an ancient, atmospheric, unique place with lush greenery and unspoilt villages. The landscape does possess the edge of a pre-Christian world and the otherworldly beauty of some kind of fantastical kingdom. I was looking for an escape from the pandemic and this walk definitely did the trick.
Today, the Arcane/ArtPix team was back at The Customs House in West Bay, Dorset, to prepare our unit for the Grand Reopening on Monday 12th April!
Read all about it HERE!
We are making the most of this Bank Holiday (and in general of the two-week half-term) to take stock and think about the future for us at ArtPix/Arcane Towers...
Personally, I have been preparing a few books to put into our unit at The Customs House in West Bay (it reopens on 12th April, and we are going there on Wednesday to sort things out and restock) and I am also about to get started again on The Right Place (each time I think I'm going to have a good writing spell, something happens and I cannot sit down to write).
If you head to the Arcane Publishing website, you will see that we have a spring sale on on both our novels HERE.
I am still waiting to see what is going to happen with Covid and the day job to decide whether I can start building my online bookshop. I probably won't know until August/September. I'm learning to be even more patient than I was!
In the meantime, over the next two weeks, I will try and get out into the Dorset countryside more, now that we are allowed to go beyond our immediate local area!
Yesterday, we stayed local to avoid the crowds around Dorset and headed to the ridgeway above Weymouth. It was very peaceful...
I think therefore I write.
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