So, New Year’s Day dawned… a time when the sun rose in a sky that looked like a pastel painting over a frosted landscape, when the world was silent, largely hungover and all partied out. It had been a quiet and very early night at mine, with the inexcusably early start catching up with both my guest and I long before midnight. The last thing I had heard was Ani warning off revellers.
I scraped the ice from the car… the first real sign of winter. The roads were empty as I drove to work, leaving my guest already reading through the final draft of the opening ritual of the April workshop.
A kestrel waited for me in a tree, swooping down as I drove past. A buzzard perched on a fence, waiting for the sun to rise and its breakfast to wake. My son was already up and talking about his book before I even arrived. Thirty-thousand words in, he is doing well.
He didn’t keep me too long, then it was back home to breakfast. I walked in on a scene that demanded the camera; Ani’s face was as eloquent as Tolkien while she waited for attention. Breakfast over, we got stuck into the script, ironing out the bugs in the ‘stage directions’ before getting it ready to print… and by lunchtime we were ready to head off to a quiet country pub for a read through.
As with any editing, it helps enormously to see the words translated from screen to paper; discrepancies missed on the screen jump off the page, especially when read aloud. We were pleased with the result… and the birds seemed to agree as a cloud of starlings settled around the pub while we watched the low flying kite circle the little village.
Back home, an hour fiddling with small details and the ritual was completed. The whole of the workshop has been written or sketched out for some time now, awaiting just the final additions, which have to go in when they are ready…when what you have shaped has had time to filter through the denser layers and prod your understanding in the right place. What comes out at the other end has to be both as clear and flowing as a stream, but as many-faceted as a gem that is capable of catching and refracting the light differently for every person who takes part in one of these workshops, no matter what their spiritual background and history, no matter what they bring to the moment as a viewpoint.
After that, we felt we had worked enough for one day and settled down with a glass of wine to indulge in a bit of Hobbitry, watching some of the background to the movie version and marveling at the depth and attention to detail in the production… and we had been agonising over a few bits of lighting… before talking about the depth and scope of Tolkien’s work… and wondering how anyone could possibly compete with the creation of an entire world, its Otherworld, history, myths and languages.
Writing isn’t about competing though…or it shouldn’t be. Those things that spring fresh from heart and imagination have a spark that is all their own. It doesn’t really matter that the types of stories we can tell are few in number, we can dress them in an infinite variety of ways… it matters only that the tale is whole in itself. For the workshop, for example, we have drawn on the many sources from which we have read and learned over the years… what will emerge will be none of those, and what we have written will be unique for everyone who takes part, as, like reading book, each person brings themselves to the moment, complete with their own personalities, experience and emotions.
As the day draws to a close, my guest and the dog are both asleep. Tomorrow will dawn as it chooses and another day will unfold as we move into a new year. It will begin with the same routine as always and our plan for the day almost identical to today. Yet tomorrow too will be unique… one day amongst many. Like the starlings, each is special in its own way… even when they may seem the same and move in the same direction, no two moments are ever the same and each may take flight without warning.