Using locations for inspiration ~ a trip down memory lane
A year or so ago, I started work on my second novel. Those of you who have read previous blog posts of mine will know that my first novel sits, alone and forlorn, in a drawer of my rather crammed writing cabinet, the writing cabinet that is a slightly more organised version of my mind… only slightly! Novel Number Two was put on hold when the idea for Novel Number Three arrived as if by magic, and was so overwhelming that I just had to write it NOW, and have been working on it ever since.
So, my plan, on completion of Novel Number Three (which should be in the next few weeks), is to go back to Novel Number Two, and this, I decided, would necessitate a trip down memory lane as Novel Number Two is set in Wigston in Leicestershire, the area where I grew up. It is (will be) a gritty novel about childhood, tragedy and dreams. I could, perhaps, write the book without ‘reliving’ the past, just from my memories. I have a very strong, and usually reliable, visual memory and remember the minutest detail of a place. But I felt a revisit was in order. Nothing beats actually being there, seeing things for yourself as they really are ~ decrepit buildings, areas of newly mown green and peopled pavements that meld together memories whilst injecting them with a new energy.
For our current novel, my co-author and I have visited a whole host of locations
that have inspired all sorts of ideas which simply wouldn’t have come to us had we not visited these places. So it made sense for me to make this trip. Plus, I kind of wanted to go back. It had been a long time and I wanted to see my favourite park down the road from my house, the big sprawling park I walked across to get to high school, my old house where I lived from 3-18 years old, the strange round library I loved and wrote about in Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan… there were so many things I wanted to see again.
So, last week I revisited. I had my trip down memory lane, armed with notepad and camera. It was quite amazing, and possibly what amazed me most was that, although things had changed, everything was still very like the memories and pictures in my head… except smaller! Everything seems so HUGE as a child. I made my way from my house to my old primary school without any difficulty at all. I remembered who lived where and I was even able to identify which shop used to be my favourite record shop – blimey, I spent so many hours and so much money in there – and which shop used to be the army and navy store where I picked up so much of my gear during my teen punk phase.
Some things had changed… my old house had been extended to the side, the huge boat swing at the large park I used to cross on my way to high school, had gone – in fact, that whole area of park had been grassed over… my beloved pavilion that bore the scars of my etched in name had gone… my old college was reduced to a pile of bricks. Still, it was all recognisably ‘home’ and tugged at strings that I thought were no longer there. A brown dog barked along a scruffy and deserted street and stopped me in my tracks… it was like a moment from 30 years ago popping and fizzing in my mind again.
I took gazillions of pics, all of which are loaded with old memories brought back to life, and which I will use for stimulus when I embark on Novel number two again.
This building here…
and this area here…
are pivotal to Novel number two’s plot and many other memories and settings from my trip will be worked in, just as the pork pie library was worked into Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan. These places are just waiting to inspire!
Do you use locations to inspire your writing?