Do you write about where you live?

24 Aug

Llandegla is based in North Wales, not too far from where I live. It isn’t somewhere I visit, I just pass through from time to time. At the weekend we jumped in the car to head to the local supermarket, but decided we would take a de tour. Not having a destination in mind, we asked our son at each junction whether we should turn left or right. We passed through Coedpoeth and headed further up the mountain into Bwlchgwyn, reputed to be the highest village in North Wales.

Continuing on, we passed the boarders through three counties, the open countryside and views an inspiration to our eyes. Of all the areas we passed through, Llandegla, and its immediate surrounding areas is the part that stays in my mind the most from that journey. Having lived here for five years, I thought I had seen pretty much all the area had to offer, well, at least glimpsed it. That trip treated me to the views of the sprawling fields, filled with purple heather in full bloom. I confess, as it was a spur of the moment trip I didn’t even have my phone so was unable to take photos for you. You will just have to trust me, it was beautiful. (Just a shame the sun wasn’t shining, but it is Wales…).

The imagery reminded me of books I read as a child, The Sadler’s Wells Collection by Lorna Hill. As the name suggests, they are primarily based in London, and focus on the The Sadler’s Wells Theatre. For those that do not know it, it is based in Covent Garden and is famous for its ballet. As with all good children’s books, the focus was not just on the ballet, but spoke of the connections of where the protagonist lived during the holidays, in Northumberland. Needless to say, horse riding, moorlands and everything remote became a large factor when at ‘home’. Hill describes how even when dancing, the landscape of home would influence the dancers moves, and naturally make everything that much more beautiful, and romantic.

As a child, growing up in Kent, I loved my surroundings but never felt inspired by them. Indeed, it was only once I moved to Wales I started writing. Where are all my works based? In Kent of course. Once you remove from an area, you are able to see it in a different light, suddenly the old ramshackle cottage with brambles growing over its path has a new meaning. It is not an eyesore, just a secret waiting to be told.

I do cherish my surroundings here in Wales. Just at the end of my road, I am able to glance down and see the town spreading before my eyes. Yep, I live on top of a mountain and I can tell you, as wonderful as the views are, it is freezing, and for certain it is not somewhere you want to be throughout the cold winter months. The architecture of the town beats many idolised towns and cities. In fact, although I do love Chester, the neighbouring city with a wealth of history, it does seem somewhat dull and cliché. Wrexham, just has something different, but I don’t see it anymore. I can only speak of its effect on me based on my memory of when I first moved here. Now I see all the worst parts of the area, the bits that eventually drag you down. If it was my home town, it wouldn’t. You accept it, but away from home, you are always comparing.

By the looks of it, and we have talked about this for some time, we shall soon be moving back to Kent. Our original plan had only ever been to stay for three years, I guess you could say, life got in the way. Now, I do believe Wrexham is getting in the way. This decision, has met a mixed reaction. Mostly, ‘dont move’ by our local friends, and ‘yay, your coming home’ from those closest to us in Kent. It is nice to hear these words, but the world is a small place, and the UK is pretty much miniscule. Travel is not hard these days. From our location in Kent to Wrexham, it is about a five-hour drive, and that’s allowing for stops. On the train it is about three hours and they just whizz by. For those of you who love in America, I know, it’s practically around the corner, why does anyone care???

As close as it is, it doesn’t distract from  the two areas being very different. Not just the scenery, but also the people, the weather…

When we do move there is one thing that I know will be a certainty, my writing will be stronger than before, my settings more varied. I will also be able to open up my writing to  more literary tendencies. I am intrigued as to whether my chosen genre will change. I know in the past prolonged visits to Kent have influenced my choice of writing YA.

So what about you? Do you write about your immediate surroundings? Have you taken time to explore nearby? Do different factors affect your genre? Would you be willing to move to create new opportunities?

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3 Responses to “Do you write about where you live?”

  1. Ariana@Pearl's twirl August 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I totally agree about how the places we live influence our writing and for me weather is a big part of it too. My writing is much lighter during summer time vs. winter months.

  2. Nicole Basaraba August 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Having moved from the countryside of western Canada to Brussels, Belgium I found myself inundated with ideas. My first novel is based in Brussels and I noticed that when I went on vacation this summer in a different place (and in a different mood) it felt “weird” to be back in the setting of my story. Brussels is grey and I feel like my writing is grey. I will consider doing a Writer’s Retreat when I get to the editing stage. To change my perspective.

    Unplanned drives are the best. They’re so relaxing and eye-opening.

    • Ellie August 25, 2011 at 9:22 am #

      It’s funny you should say your writing is grey. When I look to my setting in Kent, it is really bright. I know the memories play hazy tricks and you do tend to remember the best parts. As a result, when writing crime although the story is drak, the setting is bright and can be quite conflicting. However, I have never had this said in a negative way, so I run with it. Whenever I think of Wales, even on a day like today when the sun is actually shining, I feel damp, claustrophobic. I always feel that if I let these thoughts move forward I could write something in the horror genre. I find this impact of areas and it’s contrasting emotions quite exciting – like anything is possible!

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