I was going to blog about starting the New Year with some writing goals, but that seemed a little too predictable and same old, same old. So I'm going to write about the writing environment instead. And I don't mean your desk, or table or favourite chair.
Last night I watched a programme, which featured how writers and artists had been, and still are, influenced by the British countryside.
The Brontë sisters used to do most of their writing after 9pm when their father had gone to bed. Emily and her sisters portrayed the mood of the moors in the iconic novel Wuthering Heights. And the same place is still being painted by an 72 year old artist, who calls the moors his 'mistress' and fulfilling a goal he wrote at the tender age of 16 to use his brush as the Brontë's had used their pens.
David Hockney is very much a Yorkshire man, despite spending a lot of his time in America. But he returns to the same familiar spot, places he has painted many times and continues to paint them. Now he uses an iPad (I kid you not) rather than a brush and canvas to create his stunning colourful scenes.
Beatrix Potter, a woman I envy, could not only write but also draw and it was from those pictures that she introduced us to fascinating characters like Peter Rabbit. (Did you know that she was also a gifted amateur mycologist - I didn't know what one was until last night.)
And no-one could deny the impact of the Dorset countryside on Thomas Hardy. His bucolic prose and understanding of the lives of people who lived there provided him with power to pen such tales as Far From the Madding Crowd.
It struck me that as expats, and expat writers, we have a wealth of inspiration in our 'back yard'. I am forever surprised by the ever-changing background of the Sibillini Mountains, the tip of which I can see from my window; the hue of the trees as they travel the colour wheel from month to month; the stark seasons of dry hot summers, theatrical thunderstorms, metres of virgin white snow and the tips of bright green growth. I wish I could draw them, alas those skills have not been gifted to me, but I shall endeavour to raise my head a little more for inspiration.