Sunday, 26 August 2007

Research, Research, Research

Just got back from a brilliant research trip in Bath. I've been travelling quite cheaply, staying in the smallest room in a convenient hotel and getting the feeling of 'being on the road'. In order to connect to my characters' lives as best I could, I visited several museums, imagining what it would have been like to use all the implements, wear the clothes and be at the mercy of the medicines and the food. Also I had a lot of help from the glassblowers' studio by the river, who told me all about the dangers and joys of handblown glass. I did several pathworkings, made sketches and produced some awful watercolours. Some days I sat by the River Avon and gave myself a rest. One thing I did experience was the loneliness of the road, and also the effects of the weather - when I got drenched in the rain it took a real effort to keep my spirits up. How much worse must it be if your livelihood depends on the sunshine. It's really easy to write in a grotty hotel room - in fact, working on my novel was the main thing that kept me sane when the nights drew in and I missed home the most.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Chigwell Row Wood

Today I had the curious experience of seeing myself on TV. The programme was filmed in Chigwell Row Wood, which is a part of Epping Forest. In the film I talked about my ancestor, Tom Tarling, and life in 19th century England when a working man's only real asset was his fists, for his trade barely furnished enough to put bacon on the table. It was a salutary experience, to talk it through for the camera. After, I came away with renewed respect for that man, rough and ready no doubt, who bought himself a wagon and a horse, or two, from the sweat of his own brow. No credit cards in those days. Writing Chapter 7 was a deeper, more meaningful experience for having explored Tom's dilemma for the purposes of fiction and I have had a good weekend at the writing, even if I have been over the same three paragraphs 83 times!